TiE SV Panel on Real Time Video- Changing Social and Mobile Communications

March 7, 2012
By

Introduction:

Started by several Indus entrepreneurs in 1992, TiE (The Indus Entrepreneurs) is the largest global organization which fosters entrepreneurship.  There are 57 chapters in 14 countries, with the TiE-Silicon Valley (SV) chapter being one of the largest. TiE-SV President Vish Mishra set the tone for this March 1st meeting by stating that Naveen Bisht, Chair, Programs and Board Member, TiE Silicon Valley, had revitalized TiE-SV programs.

Naveen said that tonight's program is significant because Real Time Video (over telecommunications networks and the Internet) has created a revolution- it enables people to interact and communicate with one another much more easily then ever before.

TiE Hosts:

  • Shalini Govil-Pai, Director & Head of Youtube Partner Solutions, Google
  • Bhaskar Roy, Head of Qik Products, Skype (moderated panel discussion)

Panelists:

  • Jeff Fluhr, Founder & CEO, Spreecast
  • Mayur Kamat, Product Manager, Google+ Hangouts
  • Michael Seibel, CEO, Socialcam
  • Krish Ramakrishnan, CEO, Blue Jeans Network
  • Muhammad Shaikh (Salman), Engineering Manager, Cisco Telepresence Exchange
  • Kurt Thywissen, Director of Web Innovations, Skype

Discussion:

After a brief opening statement welcoming the attendees, the moderator let each of the panelist's describe their company's mission related to real time video:

Blue Jeans Network: Provides interoperable video communications using different vendors video platforms, e.g. enables real time video conferencing between Google, Skype and Cisco systems.

Spreecast:  Focuses on social/ public face-to-face communications. The company has developed a social video platform that lets users broadcast together. That system has been in beta test for last 3 months.

Google+ Hangouts:  Facilitates real time conversations that normally don't happen. Google+ Hangouts is the multi-way social video communication medium powering Google+.

Cisco Telepresence Exchange:  Telepresence and Cloud (=Internet) based video conferencing systems.  Aims to virtualize video conferencing around the globe with inter-networking between different service providers.

Socialcam:  Aim is to share real time videos. The Socialcam app was said to be an easy way to record videos on your mobile device and then share them instantly with your friends and family.   Socialcam was spun out of Justin.tv, which is a live broadcasting service on the Internet.

Skype:  Wants to make real time video conferencing ubiquitous through inexpensive equipment and software.  Last year, there were 300B minutes of calling of which 1/2 was said to be video calls (the author finds this very hard to believe).  Consumer based video calling is an enabler of "social applications and touch points."

Next an open discussion ensued, with each participating panelist stating their company's position with respect to where real time video is now and where it's going.

Krish of Blue Jeans Network there've been four established trends for the last two years:

1.  Increasing user adoption of broadband Internet access

2.  Pervasiveness of 2-way cameras (especially on mobile devices)

3.  Generational change of 20 & 30 somethings feeling comfortable with video (vs older generations that don't want to be seen on camera remotely by others)

4.  Video communications quality has gotten better and is now quite good

Muahmmad of Cisco Telepresence said that business communications in enterprises was growing.  "Business customers are using video as a key vehicle to communicate with one another," he said.  "The ability to see people's faces in real time video conferencing makes people feel more comfortable," he added.

Mayur of Google+ Hangouts posed an interesting question:  "Once (real time) communications is established, how can the users build relationships using this new tool?"

Michael Seibel of Socialcam was not bullish on live (real time) video.  He said that when you step past the demo's the user experience has not been that good, especially for low cost video conferencing systems.  Video is something that many people find intimidating.  The challenge is how to use live video to solve real problems in people's lives.  Socialcam is pursuing a broadcast model to distribute real time video to many consumers.

"The smartphone is the most popular video communications device.  It's common to show your friend a video clip on your smart phone rather than send it to him or her live over the Internet." said Mr. Seibel.

Mayur Kamat of Google+ Hangouts said his company's offering would provide much lower latency- extremely important for real time video communications.  (Author's note: To get started with Google+ Hangouts, you first need to install the Google Voice and Video Plugin on your PC or mobile device).  It's important to distinguish between constant video streaming and busts of video, he said.  Video conferencing and collaboration for business customers (Intel's model for desktop video conferencing in 1995) is now possible using Google+ Hangouts, according to Mr. Kamat.

Kurt of Skype (now owned by Microsoft) wants to give software developers the tools they need to integrate Skype voice and video conferencing into their devices and apps.  Skype sees social networking applications that exploit video chats amongst friends and has integrated with Facebook to power Facebook’s video chat.

Sprecast will build on top of existing social network platforms, according to Mr. Fluhr.  Like Skype, he believes social networking will include video communications.  The ability to send video with 1 click to someone on your smart phone contact list will be a huge opportunity for mobile app developers.  The mobile contact list on your smart phone will then have to be shared, resulting in privacy issues and concerns that were not addressed at this meeting.

Krish Ramakrishnan of Blue Jeans Network said there would be a "network effect*" if various video conferencing systems from Skype, Google+ Hangouts and Cisco Telepresence were all interconnected.  We thoroughly agree and believe such interworking, if possible, would be a very good thing.

*Network Effect is the effect that one user of a good or service has on the value of that product to other people. When network effect is present, the value of a product or service is dependent on the number of others using it. The more users, the more valuable is the experience which attracts even more users.  This is similar to Metcalfe's law, which states that the value of a telecommunications network is proportional to the square of the number of connected users of the system.

Skype believes Quality of Service (QoS) is paramount for users to have a good experience watching videos or engaging in video chats/ video conferences.  In various tests, Skype found that audio quality is more important than video quality (that's because the human ear is a lot more sensitive than the eye.)   For streaming video, a key issue is the time it takes to start playback.  Does it play instantly or must it be buffered for several seconds?  That's an important factor for many consumers who have become ever more impatient due to higher speed (and lower latency) broadband connections.

Video Surveillance is becoming important in security and law enforcement, according to the panelists.  It's used for field service in some theme parks.

Video search (e.g. searching for videos) has been painful.  Video search monetization is from search advertising, which is "owned" by Google's You Tube operation.

Comment and Perspective:

While this panel session was quite enlightening and informative, it was not a structured discussion.  Rather, remarks and opinions on many different categories of Real Time (RT) video were interspersed by the various panelists resulting in a lack of continuity.  The types of RT video and associated market segments are actually quite different!  Here are a few examples of RT Video market segments/ applications:

  • RT video conferencing and collaboration for business workers (my ? last nite).  This is where Cisco is used. Skype and Google+ Hangouts also have the capability to share their screen while in a video call.
  • RT video conferencing for consumers (mostly using 3G/4G mobile networks; amongst family & friends).  This is where Skype is used most.
  • Video streaming per user (YouTube, Netflix, on demand sports, etc)
  • Video broadcasting (for distance learning or Over the Top videos like live sporting events/concerts)
  • Video surveillance for police, factory or shop floor, 1st responders, theme parks, etc
  • Video monitoring of patients + telemetry data for health care/ ambulances

Each of the above market segments has unique and different requirements on video/audio quality, latency, jitter plus additional bandwidth required (in some cases) for broadband data.

Video communications has become pervasive—on TVs, laptops, desktop computers, mobile devices, even appliances.  For both business and consumers, there are several questions to ponder that will determine the market trajectory for real time video:
  • What are the most important user, technological, market, and enterprise forces that will shape the course of global real-time video development and applications?
  • How will work life change as high qualtiy video conferencing/ telepresence replaces business travel?
  • Will video chat become an integral part of social networks, e.g. Skype integrated into Facebook applications?  Or will privacy issues put a damper on that, e.g. making contact lists/FB friends available to mobile app developers?
  •  With no inherent QoS in te Internet, what techniques will ensure lower latency and guaranteed constant bit rate bandwidth for real time video applications?
The answers to these and other relevent questions will determine the future of video communications.  We think interoperability between different video conferencing systems will go a long way to increase usage and produce a "network effect."
 
Reference:
 
Comcast's Avgiris: Verizon Wireless Adds Muscle To Triple Play
http://www.multichannel.com/article/480832-Comcast_s_Avgiris_Verizon_Wireless_Adds_Muscle_To_Triple_Play.php

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12 Responses to TiE SV Panel on Real Time Video- Changing Social and Mobile Communications

  1. Alan Weissberger
    March 21, 2012 at 2:24 pm

    Cisco is paying $5bn for NDS, a UK company which specializes in securing subscription TV services. That’s as much as Oracle paid for Silicon Valley icon Sun Microsystems!

    NDS, which is privately owned by the Permira Funds and News Corporation, provides middleware and security software built into set-top boxes. Its customers include BSkyB in the UK and DirectTV in the US. NDS jointly developed Sky+ with BSkyB, providing the personal video recorder functionality inside the set-top box as well as the user interface. Its middleware platform, Media Highway, acts like an operating system for set-top boxes, delivering the user interface, digital rights management and conditional access, plus personal video recorder functionality.

    This acquisition surely shows that Cisco is serious about consumer video. First Scientific Atlanta, then Tandberg (for $3B) and now NDS!

  2. TiE-SV Member
    March 13, 2012 at 1:36 pm

    Thanks for a great summary of this event which I attended on 1 March 2012. You captured the essence of what each panelist said, even though there was indeed a lack of continuity on any given topic related to RT video.

    The Future of Real-Time Video Communication report released. Skype commissioned IFTF (not IETF) to research and start a conversation about this question and much more in this newly-released report:

    http://www.iftf.org/FutureofRealTimeVideoCommunication

  3. anonymous
    March 11, 2012 at 10:53 am

    Excellent article with a lot of food for thought!

    Surprised that OTT video was not discussed as per Roger Bindl’s recent post. It threatens to be an incredibly disruptive force and could change markets as we know them.

  4. Joe de la Cruz
    March 7, 2012 at 10:48 am

    Very informative and well written article. I would guess that aside from video conferencing and web meetings that video is not used much in a business setting. Don’t think the mobile workforce will use video chat or video streaming for their jobs anytime soon

    • Alan J Weissberger
      March 7, 2012 at 6:18 pm

      One reason real time video is not being used much by the mobile workforce is that there is no QoS or SLAs provided by mobile network operators. Hence, you can’t get guaranteed bandwidth, low latency, bounds on jitter for real time video conferencing, access to high performance cloud services, vehicular video surveillance, patient monitoring in an ambulance, etc. It may take till 2015 or later before mobile network operators offer 4G QoS combined with SLAs.

      I see three uses of real time video in the workplace:

      1. Telepresence/ high quality room based video conferencing
      2. Distance learning with live Q and A between instructor and students
      3. Live web meetings or webinars (most of the content is slides rather than video)

      For non real time video, the biggest use is archived webinars & webcasts that can be viewed/heard on demand.

    • Bhaskar Roy
      March 14, 2012 at 4:53 pm

      I think this depends on the vertical the business is in or the functional department in a business. Businesses or departments that are inherently mobile are starting to use mobile video in their day-to-day jobs. For example:

      - Media companies: They are arming their reporters with various mobile video streaming solutions so that they can broadcast and report from various locations without having to wait for a satellite truck to show up. I think connected video cameras, like Sony Bloggie Live that enables live streaming via Qik, will start to see some adoption.

      - Field service: Field service agents are now starting to use mobile video chat or streaming to visually show the problem to other technicians in the office so that they can troubleshoot the problems together.

      • March 14, 2012 at 7:47 pm

        Hi Bhaskar,

        What you are suggesting definitely collapses the workflow and makes video production much more accessible to more people in more verticals. Today, this approach applies to only certain types of content, but the value of direct uploads to the cloud (from Bloggie or prosumer cameras via, say, a phone) is definitely the direction of things. We just spent 2+ hours shooting, editing and uploading a less than 3 minute video. I am not certain we could have save much time by uploading and editing in the cloud on our first pass. The real savings starts at the next pass when one starts tweaking the video. By editing in the cloud, one saves the time of having to render on a desk-top PC (faster renders by harnessing the power of multiple cloud processors) and re-uploading. Additionally, the cloud has the potential to serve as a good DAM (Digital Asset Management) system, for finding b-roll that puts the finishing touch on a masterpiece.

  5. March 7, 2012 at 8:04 am

    Another great article. Yes interoperability will be a big issue that will drive success or failure for video market. Also wondering if anyone asked as to how many people use video because it is cool vs it is required in business setting?

    • Bhaskar Roy
      March 14, 2012 at 4:22 pm

      In businesses that have teams in different locations, video plays a critical part in bringing the teams together and keeping in sync. I think the main uses of video in businesses are:
      - Video conference: This is to enable the face-to-face meetings, which are important in overall collaboration. This becomes critically important especially when a part of the team that you work with is in a different location.
      - On-demand video: This is important for a number of areas from e-learning to company communications.

      • March 14, 2012 at 4:28 pm

        Bhaskar, Thanks for your commment.
        To Viodi View Readers: Bhaskar moderated this excellent panel session!

        alan

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