Good news for Cisco, Logitech and Skype: A new report from the Pew Internet & American Life Project shows that 19 percent of Americans — and 23 percent of U.S. Internet users — have used video conferencing online or on their mobile phones. Even more impressive is that the number of users who use video chat on a daily basis has doubled over the past year.
According to Pew, the percentage of Internet users who video chat on any given day has risen to 4 percent, from 2 percent a year earlier. That’s still a tiny percentage of the overall market, but it shows that users are quickly taking to the idea of video chat and integrating it into their every day lives.
Companies like Cisco, Logitech and Skype are all trying to ride the wave of consumer demand for video calling by integrating the feature into consumer electronic devices in the living room, enabling users to make video calls and chat with friends and family through their TV sets. On the same day that Cisco introduced its Umi consumer telepresence offering, Logitech came out with a TV-based video chat offering of its own running on its Google TV-powered Revue set-top box. And Skype has been enabling its users to video chat through supported TVs from Samsung since earlier this year.
But video chat isn’t just about making calls on your PC, or even on your TV. Users are increasingly using their mobile phones to connect via video. While still a nascent market, 7 percent of mobile phone owners have used their handsets for video chat, according to Pew. The mobile market, in particular, is bound to grow rapidly over the coming months, as multiple players are seeking to connect users through new mobile devices.
The mobile video chat market really got off the ground with the release of Apple’s iPhone 4 and the introduction of its FaceTime application, but newer entrants are seeking to connect users even across multiple mobile operating systems. Mobile video chat startup Tango recently launched an app on the Apple App Store and Android Marketplace that allows users to chat across iOS and Android devices, and a recent update to Yahoo’s Messenger app now allows video calling for the first time.
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