“Crossing video with AOL Instant Messenger is a winner. Better start wearing clothes when working from home,” writes Peter Lewis for Fortune. “Video teleconferencing over the Internet isn’t new. Just minutes after scientists discovered how to transmit two-way voice, video, and text streams between computers, sex-starved nerds were offering their credit card numbers to interactive peep-show services. Before long, travel-averse businesses started exploring Internet-based video teleconferencing. Even so, until now rigging a computer to act as a videophone generally has been more trouble than it’s worth, with tiny, fuzzy pictures and walkie-talkie voice delays.”
Lewis writes, “Apple is changing all that with software that makes Internet-based video chats cheap and simple, using the popular AOL Instant Messaging (AIM) and its own .Mac services. With the new iChat AV prototype software (free, for now) and an iSight digital web camera ($149), a Mac user with a high-speed connection can “call” home from a business trip, sympathize as his youngster shows off a skinned knee (or a new piercing), make goo-goo eyes or grouse with the spouse for an hour, and never pay a dime to the phone company.”
“Microsoft is cooking up something similar with its MSN Messenger version 6.0, now in testing. It’s not as simple or satisfying as Apple’s offering. Still, Windows outsells Apple’s Mac OS X more than ten to one, so it’s bound to expose more people to the idea of Internet-based video chat,” lewis reports. “Apple’s market share remains disproportionately small compared with the large impact it is having on the computer industry through innovative products like iChat AV and iSight, the iMac, the iPod, and the iTunes Music Store. Maybe these new products will open some more eyes.”
Full article here.