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Why Don't People Like Video Calling?

October 25, 2012 | Telepresence Options
Skype for Windows 8.jpg
By John R. Quain, Personal Tech, Published October 25, 2012, FoxNews

The pace at which we switch from one technology to another can make your head spin. But there's one technology whose lack of traction is more of a head scratcher than a head spinner: Why hasn't video calling become the norm?

Video calling or videoconferencing has been around for years. Sure, in the early days you needed an ISDN line and thousands of dollars worth of ISA boards to get it to work -- and then there weren't that many people you could call. But now there are free video calling apps on countless devices, video cameras everywhere, and bandwidth to boot (although it may cost you).

There's Skype, FaceTime, and newcomers like Google+ Hangouts. The cameras are in smartphones, laptops, and even new TVs.

But even with a push from major companies ranging from Apple to Microsoft, video calls have had muted success, which is a shame.

On a recent assignment in Hong Kong, alone at the top of Victoria Peak, I realized that I could share the view with my daughter, who was halfway around the world. A quick call on an AT&T Samsung Galaxy SIII and there she was suddenly asking what certain buildings were and why there was a light show in progress. It was the kind of experience that succeeding in doing what social networking is supposed to do: Make us feel less alone and more connected.

So a social networking site that features video calling should be a slam dunk, right? Not necessarily.

    'Most of us are understandably a little hesitant to join in a video call; you never know what you might get.'

The struggle to get people to put their faces online was highlighted with recent scrutiny of Airtime, a much hyped startup video chat site backed by Napster doyens Sean Parker and Shawn Fanning. Granted, the site is only a few months old, but despite the celebrity geek pedigree it hasn't garnered much awareness (one could hardly call it "high-profile") or users, for that matter.

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