Skype reports a proportion of its users (and presumably it can tell this easily by monitoring Skype sessions) are leaving video calls to close friends and relatives open on a permanent or semi-permanent basis. By I.D. Scales.
There are a couple of ways to think about this: you might immediately think the trend emblematic of the uneconomic network use promoted by OTT applications. Then again, network economics aside, you might see it as an interesting indication that the network video application is headed away from 'the call' and towards what Skype is calling in a blog post "Ambient video", and what we might even classify as an M2M (or in this case room-to-room) application since there is no direct user initiation and contol over the call.
Ambient? Sounds 'new age' and 'out there'... just means adding to the environment you're in rather than demanding your complete attention - elevator video perhaps. Skype's examples of why people are initiating permanent or sem-permanent ambient video connections include:
- Helping "make people feel like they are at home together with each other.
It delivers the warmth and familiarity of both the location and the people our users love all the time." So the link may be in a particular place in two houses (the kitchen, say) or work-places so that when members of either household or work-space pass through they can be aware of each other and engage (or not).
Then there's the boyfriend/girlfriend thing:
- "Leaving the connection open indefinitely can act as an indication of the emotional depth of the commitment, saying, 'I am always there with you'... We've heard numerous tales of Skype users falling asleep next to their boyfriends, girlfriends or spouses on a Skype video call," says the blog.
So having an ambient video connection can "eliminate the trouble of setting up specific times to chat, and video always helps paint a greater picture on what's going on in someone's life than audio alone. You get to see where someone is, their surroundings and most importantly, their expressions and body language."
Skype is not letting out any hard numbers of course (that's obviously valuable information) so the "advent" part of what it calls "The Advent of Ambient Video"
may only concern a tiny percentage of Skype users becoming a slightly less tiny percentage. But it's interesting, none the less.
As for network load, presumably even ambient environments involve long periods of open connection without any sound and no data-hogging picture change taking place. In fact an ambient call is not a call at all, it's mutual surveillance (discuss).
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