Mobiles Will Be The Locus of Conferencing Innovation

Today, PC-based conferencing vendors such as Cisco, IBM/Lotus, and Microsoft tend to focus on PC-centric innovation. Eg., support for multi-person video cameras, integration with PBXs, integration with desktop applications.

However, I think the biggest innovations, starting perhaps in 2012, will be found among mobile phones. These will have sufficient bandwidth and computing power to compete with desktops. However:

  • Their user interfaces are severely constrained
  • They are always with the user
  • They have, or will have, location awareness
  • They will have plenty of other very innovative aspects

Thus the exciting conferencing developments will, several years hence, turn around mobile phones.

The phones will remain small so that they can easily fit in a pocket. Obviously they’ll continue to get thinner. Innovation–in ways we don’t imagine–will help us get by with small screens. Presumably, videocameras will often be built in.

David Ferris

One Comment

  1. Alex Hadden-Boyd
    Posted November 23, 2009 at 4:41 PM | Permalink

    I totally agree with this. Cisco Introduced Cisco WebEx Meeting Center on the iPhone last January as a free download on the iPhone to allow people to attend web and audio conferences on their iPhones. It’s been one of the most popular features we’ve ever introduced. Let’s face it, you are more likely to have your mobile phone with you than anything else and the graphics capabilities on the phones are great now. So if I can see what’s being shared in the web conference and hear the discussion, I’m no longer a second class (audio only) participant in the meeting – unless of course I am driving! I also agree that adding video can’t be too far behind. This is a trend which is great for all of us who work from anywhere!

  2. Art Rosenberg
    Posted November 23, 2009 at 5:10 PM | Permalink

    Mobility brings with it environmental constratints, especially if there is no control over scheduling. One of the benefits of unified communications (UC) is the ability to “click-to-talk” and “click-to-conference.” However, being accessible with a mobile device and being available to communicate doesn’t necessarily mean that you are in location where you can talk and/or hear. (In a meeting, noisy environment, public place with no privacy, etc.).

    The potential for multi-media conferencing to enable some participants to participate with voice, while others do with text, is another extension of speech recognition and text-to-speech recognition that can be considered. That approach is already being exploited heavily in telephone answering voice mail services, where the caller leaves a voice message, but the recipients gets a more efficent text message.

    Obviously there will be limitations to efficient conversational conferencing, but at least there can be some real-time participation.

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