Why hasn't set top home video conferencing taken off?

For years we have been hearing about video chats from the living room. I first heard about it 13 or 14 years ago. So why hasn't this technology taken off like the pundits predicted years (and years) ago? Let's take a look.
Price?
Flashback 15 years ago: "If only codecs were $20,000, everyone would use it"
Flashback 10 years ago: "If only codecs were $10,000, everyone would use it"
Flashback 5 years ago: "If only codecs were $5,000, everyone would use it"
We keep thinking that price is the barrier to entry. Now video conferencing is free in many instances (save for your iOs/android/windows device that you have and use for a million other things besides video chats). While price is a factor with set top units, it doesn't rank as high as other reasons for their lack of use.

Quality?
With broadband speeds what they are, we're quite capable of better than bad video chats. That's not the reason either as long as the product has the approximate image quality of what you normally watch on television. Anything less than HD quality with good framerate and people won't use it since it looks worse than tv show you watch on the same display. That's a point that people rarely think about. If video conferencing looked as good as House of Cards on Netflix, would more people use it?

Privacy?
There's no real expectation of privacy in the office, but at home there should be no reason not to expect at least some level of privacy (save for the government and your ISP spying on you). Having a camera sitting on my television in the living room gives me a certain feeling of creepiness but it's not a deal killer.

Ubiquity?
What do you have? Can I talk to you? Do I need to email you or call you first to have a video chat? Wait, email and the phone are ubiquitous. Video chats aren't with these set top units. Not it either. While it's close, it's not the number one reason.

Convenience?

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at FreeDigitalPhotos.net


Bingo. It's really inconvenient. From start to finish video conferencing can be, and usually is, inconvenient. The industry complains on one hand that going to a particular room in the office is inconvenient but on the other hand seems to cheer about the thought people gathering in one particular room in the house. Home video conferencing will only exist as a mobile video chat, just that you happen to be in your house. Attempting to turn your living room into a video conference room won't happen with any mass appeal. There are simply too many problems with the entire experience. From price to quality to ubiquity as I mentioned above to things like lighting, camera angles, do you have to move your furniture, etc. It's time to reevaluate trying to slap a camera on the living room's television and making it a permanent fixture.

Bryan
Follow me on Twitter @bryanhellard

Bryan Hellard is a guy that thinks he knows something about video conferencing. At his feet are six codecs so that must mean he knows something. Or not. Tell him why he is wrong.

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