Real-time visual communication using a mobile phone doesn’t seem to be happening. Working with Kodak, Motorola announced early this month the Motozine ZN5. It’s relatively cheap mobile phone with a high-quality digital camera. Sharing a photo with this device means uploading the photo to a website or emailing it. So the Motozine ZN5 isn’t a show-and-tell communicator.
Other developments suggest possibilities for innovation. Pure Digital Technologies has trumped the large, established consumer electronics companies with its easy-to-use Flip Video camcorders. Since the launch of Flip Video in May, 2007, more than 1.5 million of the camcorders have been sold. The Flip Video Ultra is now the top-selling camcorder in the U.S. Perhaps a lesson: a real-time visual communicator will have to be easy to use, but a small, new company’s easy-to-use device could be successful against a large variety of devices from traditional mobile phone providers.
Google recently announced voice and video chat conveniently integrated into Gmail. Video chat from a desk-top computer provides much less interesting communicative context then video chat (or photo sharing) from a mobile device. But possibilities for mobile devices will surely expand rapidly with the development of the Android platform. So the innovation necessary to produce a successful real-time visual communicator will occur in an open field for device design.
Despite little evidence of it thus far, real-time visual communication still seems to me to be a propitious area for future communications industry growth.