With the social media industry worth billions (just look at the value of LinkedIn’s recent IPO) and has a greater awareness than ever due to the potential of this industry, we take a look at Video Chat and whether this could be one to watch over the next 12 months. Video chat does pretty much exactly what it says; it allows you to chat via video however adding a social media element could make for a very viral and very addictive proposition.
Mobiles are likely to play a key role in the growth of video chat and with Google recently announcing the roll out of the Google Talk video chat service to Android devices and Skype bringing video chat to the iPhone in late 2010 expect to see more and more people using this technology.
Whilst chatting with your friends over a video call might be appealing to some introducing this to social networking opens up many more possibilities. There are already apps for Facebook such as 360Mate which allow video chat on Facebook however what could be even more interesting is the range of sites that allow you to randomly connect to other people around the world via webcam for a brief video chat. The concept is great in theory and there are a number of sites that have been offering this facility for some time now however, unfortunately these seem to have developed in to tools for people to expose themselves to (sometimes) un-expecting people around the globe. The problem is that whilst many of these sites were designed with flirting/dating or just making friends online in mind most users will find themselves put off by the rudeness or harassment as there’s no way of regulating users.
This is a gap that has been exploited by one newcomer to the market Natter who have launched their own social video chat proposition described as a clean way for people to make friends on the web. Users access Natter via Facebook and build up Natter points for every minute spent on ‘Natter’. By using Facebook connect and the system of Natter points, users with more points can regulate anyone abusing the polite ethos through a level of moderation which is built in to regulate any unwanted behaviour.
If any of these new breed of sites can manage to successfully combine social and video chat for mainstream audiences they may be on to something big. Whether or not social video chat becomes the next big thing it’s certainly a space worth watching.