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Apple is a good leading indicator of what technologies are going to go mainstream. From WiFi to Bluetooth, it has been pushing the envelope on its machines. (Not so much when it came to firewire!) Over a year ago, it started to incorporate cameras right into its machines – from iMacs to MacBook Pros to eventually MacBooks – betting that video chatting (or conferencing) would become a mainstream activity, mostly because of its easy to use iChat.
Likewise, Microsoft, Cisco and several others have added video to their enterprise focused products. This converged view of communications is one of the reasons why Google has acquired video conferencing software from Swedish start-up, Marratech. On the blog Google says:
As a company, we thrive on casual interactions and spontaneous collaboration. So we’re excited about acquiring Marratech’s video conferencing software, which will enable from-the-desktop participation for Googlers in video conference meetings wherever there’s an Internet connection.
If they are making a deal to buy the software for internal use only, then you need to wonder why this company, and why acquire a piece of software? It doesn’t exactly seem to be a good way of spending their cash. I think they might have bigger ambitions though, as it also tries to capture the small-and-medium enterprises with its office-suite. Perhaps some of the Marratech functionality ends up in the Google Talk client.
While Apple wasn’t the first to focus on video chatting, it surely was the first to fit its entire consumer focused computer line-up with cameras. Today, most laptop makers have started to include cameras in their laptops, and slowly but surely, the video conferencing (or chatting) has started to take off.
Several companies, like SightSpeed and Skype have make video-ready communications software, a tip of the hat to the fact that today communication is not just about email, instant messaging and voice. It also is about video.
Conferencing – video, voice and white board – is now part of work life, whether you are a small company, a web worker or a large corporation.