While we’re not yet speeding through the stars on oddly designed space ships and having romantic entanglements with green women, Star Trek still did a fairly good job of predicting many aspects of the future. Their hand held communicators were a precursor to mobile phones, and of course let’s not forget how they used to talk to people via that big video screen on the ships bridge. Lieutenant Uhura would furrow her brow and say, “Captain, we’re receiving a transmission” and Captain Kirk would nod in a manly way and reply, “On screen!” The giant video screen was then the location for a video call that allowed the crew of the Starship Enterprise to talk to whichever alien happened to be threatening them that particular week (all of whom spoke perfect English and sounded as though they were from Southern California). While it seemed so amazingly futuristic just a generation ago, we now do it all the time without even thinking about it- we just call it Skype. While Skype has cornered the market in consumer video conferencing, they’ve also snapped up a large amount of the commercial market. But is Skype really the best choice when it comes to your businesses needs?
Skype certainly has the recognition factor; it’s the most widely used system of its type, and so we all feel comfortable with it, whether we’re using it at work or at home, despite the fact that it’s certainly best suited to the latter. Is Skype’s continued dominance in its field assured, or will it be similar to how MySpace disappeared and made way for Facebook (and not by choice)?
A Familiar Competitor
Google Hangout was launched in order to counter the dominance of Skype but it’s yet to make significant inroads. It has a number of features to differentiate itself from Skype, most notably the generation of a unique web address that you can give to people so that they can watch the discussion; excellent in meetings and academia. It remains to be seen whether the Hangout will grow as expected, and it may become like when Microsoft introduced Bing as an alternative to Google. Does anyone ever say they’re going to “Bing” something?
For Those With a Mac
Remember that Apple computers come ready to use the underutilized FaceTime system, which allows Mac to Mac videoconferencing, as well as Mac to iPad (second generation or higher) or iPhone (iPhone 4 and higher). This might not seem like such a helpful proposition, but given Apple’s dominance in certain industries, you can easily use FaceTime for a wide variety of your video conferencing needs.
There are an array of free video conferencing systems available online, many of which were set up as direct competitors to Skype. All of them do a perfectly serviceable job, and their only real shortcoming is that functionality isn’t so obvious, simply through their unfamiliarity… But did you know how to use Skype the first time? All of these communications systems utilize VoIP, or Voice over Internet Protocol, and your VoIP service provider can assist you in setting up a telecommunications system that includes video conferencing, without necessarily having to rely on Skype. This means that your VoIP becomes a part of some fully integrated business phone systems – that can easily handle all your businesses telecommunication needs.