I hate airports. I honestly do. Almost as much as I hate hospitals. Airports in my view are like zombie cities, filled with people who are on their way elsewhere, trying to kill time, confided by great glass walls and over-priced everything.
Flying to the Asia this week I had a glimpse of some new airports, and more interesting – new people in these airports. And I found it very interesting to see how the favorite airport past-time has changed.
Up until recently you would see everyone opening their laptops, looking for some WiFi hotspot and an electricity plug, and browsing the web or reading e-mails until they were finally called to the gate.
Well, these days most of us are no longer dependent on laptops and WiFi for e-mail and web browsing. Yet still the free WiFi areas were packed with people. What were they doing there? They were Video calling!
Free Wi-Fi area in the Beijing international airport.
Video Calling is the New Mobile Browsing
At any given time, at any WiFi area, you could see a few people video chatting with home or work. Some were using their mobile phones (I managed to catch a glimpse of FaceTime, Skype), some were using their laptops (I saw Google Talk, Skype), but all were pretty excited, talking with friends, family and colleagues in the open WiFi area, as if they were talking on the phone. Or web browsing.
Come to think of it – video calling is a great way to pass time when you’re stuck in some airport. More so, video calling is a great way of “catching up” with family or colleagues while being physically away. And as the technology today is pretty mature, when it comes to video calling over WiFi, there is no real reason why not to.
It’s true that for some video calling is still a technical barrier. Not everyone is an iPhone owner and sometimes the guy you want to call is just not on Skype. The usual problems of inter-connectivity and interoperability apply here. But as visual communications becoming available for practically any smartphone, I’m pretty sure that soon video calling would be everywhere. Just like, well, mobile browsing.
And it’s not just airports, BTW. There may be some etiquette issues with video calling on the airplane, but wouldn’t it be a great time killer?
Up until a couple of years ago mobile browsing was a dream. The iPhone has changed that, and now even my 6 year old knows you can “Google” on the go to find answers to things you don’t know (like what’s the name of that green dude on the Sonic video game… true story!). Well Apple has may as well done it again for video calling. It seems that now more and more people know the experience and want to use it. Now it’s up to us to provide them with solutions.