In 2007, a decade ago, Steve Jobs described the iPhone as “...a widescreen iPod with touch controls, a revolutionary mobile phone, and a breakthrough internet communications device.” We all know how the iPhone has changed the world we live in and how we do things, but how has it changed mobile business video conferencing?
Consumer mobile video conferencing had been around in places like Japan for a while, which was well ahead of others with a solid 3G network. However, it was not until the iPhone 4 was released in 2010 that enterprise-grade video conferencing became mainstream, and manufacturers started paying attention by building apps. The iPhone 4 was the first iPhone to include a front-facing camera module, turning it into a video conferencing device that came with FaceTime.
Tandberg realized the potential of mobile business video early, and made this "Technology Demonstration" video in early 2010 after reverse-engineering Apple’s hardware codec APIs. It took a while for that experience to be productized. I remember many of us waiting anxiously for months to finally join video calls on-the-go.
A small Italian company, Mirial, was selling a very nice mobile video app called ClearSea in 2010. Clearsea was acquired by Logitech in the summer of 2011, mainly for its mobile device client, which was to be integrated with the Lifesize division. 2011 also saw Vidyo release VidyoMobile for iOS.
After initially releasing RealPresence Mobile for tablets, Polycom made a free iPhone app available in early 2012.
We are now six years into mobile business video conferencing, and most players have a solid mobile experience. Mobile video is now accepted and established thanks to the iPhone. My iPhone is consistently my favourite "codec" or device to join BlueJeans video meetings. It is reliable, easy to use, and the convenience factor is unmatched. And my two golden retrievers certainly appreciate that I can still take them out on walks while I’m in meetings.
Internally at BlueJeans, close to 10% of our meetings are joined using mobile devices, the rest joining via room systems (Cisco, Polycom, Lifesize), the BlueJeans desktop app, or the web browser. We even have a Senior Product Manager who has outfitted his car with a special mount to join video meetings while driving—completely hands-free.
Version 9.0 of the BlueJeans Mobile App for iPhones now has added support for the BRAND NEW BlueJeans Rooms! That means you can access your meetings just by walking into a BlueJeans Rooms conference room with your iPhone. Our innovative Smart Sensor technology works with your smartphone to enable touch-to-join simplicity without scheduling a meeting or reserving a room.
I certainly foresee iPhones being used more frequently in video meetings. They may also be used as conduits to easily join meetings or change the meeting experience. I could also see, in the not-so-distant future, iPhones being used as the main device for team meetings, essentially replacing the in-room codec. Time will tell. But for now, cheers to the iPhone and all it has done for mobile video meetings.