Maybe I’m the only one with ADHD here, but I just don’t get the excitement behind Google+ Hangouts and the collective “meh” over Facebook Video Chat. I’ve been a Skype user for sometime now, and while I’ve had the occasional need for a group chat, it has never been near the 10 people that Hangouts allows. More often than not is just a simple one-to-one chat when I am too lazy to type or I want something a little more personal than a phone call.
Now, as I’ve said, I’m not on Google+ yet, so Hangouts may change everything, but philosophically speaking, I just don’t buy it. Sure it is super cool to get ten of your friends on a video chat and go buck wild, but isn’t that mainly because it is novel? Once the shiny newness wears off, how often are we going to want to do this? How much are you really going to be able to accomplish with 10 little screens vying for your attention?
I see some great business applications, I see some great personal applications, but how deep and how often does that need run? Is my Grandmother going to want to use this1. Are those elusive, yet social teens just dying for a way to connect en masse? Even though Skype is pretty darn solid, I’d argue that video chat is not nearly as prevalent as we would like it to be. While I may be alone, I can’t believe that suddenly we are going to go from using this occasionally to using it often just because it is “more social.”
If We Are A Social Media Hammer, Does Video Chat Look Like A Social Nail?
Look at this from the same standpoint as your phone; we’ve had conference lines and the ability to pull multiple users in for a long time now, but how often do we really use these features? Every now and again they are essential, but in a real day-to-day manner… not so much2.
Facebook may have aimed lower with their video project than Google+, but so what? One-to-one chat is really what people need. Besides, parity is always the name of the game, so I am sure they will be announcing the introduction of group chat sooner rather than later. All I know is, for me… quick access to video chat with all of my friends is a hell of a lot more useful and a hell of a lot more “social” than group chat with the ten friends I manage to scrape together on Google+.
Then again, I’m still not on Google+, so what do I know? Seriously, can any of you help a brother out with an invite?
Update: I have access now, so I might have to work on an informed opinion… Also made a minor change to the title for clarity.