This week Apple announced that it had sold three million iPads since the launch of the iPad Mini and the new fourth generation iPad. What is particularly interesting, especially from a video conferencing perspective, is that both of these devices feature 720p cameras on the front.
With recent trends around mobile devices and extending the reach of video, many have suggested that quality can take a backseat to mobility and accessibility. Over the last year or so, the major limitations of video conferencing with mobile devices have been the camera and the network connectivity.
For example, while 3G networking has been widespread the real-life speeds are relatively slow. Plus, the response rate of these network connections interrupts the steady flow of data hampering the transfer of high quality of video. As a result, video calls are frequently interrupted, freeze up or simply drop out creating a frustrating experience for all participants.
While Wi-Fi increases the quality, many of these mobile devices have low resolution cameras on the front. This also diminishes the quality of a video call by providing a grainy image instead of the clear image many have come to expect with HD video conferencing.
The release of several Android smart phones and the iPhone 5 has made 4G more prevalent. “True” 4G provides bandwidth over 10x the speed of 3G, in addition to a faster response (or latency). In many areas, 4G can actually be faster than a cable or DSL connection in markets providing a superior experience.
Wireless carries in the United States have recognized the value and increased throughput of 4G and continue to invest billions in expanding their 4G coverage. Just this week T-Mobile and Sprint announced major investments in their network infrastructure; but AT&T announced the largest with a $14 billion expansion.
So what does all of this mean to the video conferencing user? Really it’s the best of both worlds. High quality video conferencing is more accessible than ever before as mobile users now have multiple options to join video meetings. Once relegated to dialing in over audio, the road warrior can now be fully involved. Even more astonishing, is that the mobile user will no longer have to sacrifice quality to reap all of the benefits of visual collaboration. As a result, the ubiquity of video is well on its way.