Many years ago, I came to Silicon Valley to work as an engineer at Apple and got my start in video with QuickTime 1.0 and QuickTime VR.
Apple was where I found out that design and technology can not only co-exist, they can multiply together in a marvelous kind of fusion. Even though I worked at Apple in the wilderness years – when Steve wasn’t with the company – that vision and focus on user experience was already deeply embedded in the DNA of the company.
Of all the things I learned at Apple, the fusion of design and technology, and the creative process that drives that fusion, were the most fundamental. For me, working at Apple created a deep-seated belief in the transcendent impact of a beautifully integrated user experience. That belief is why when I talk about my time at Apple, I often say: “You can take the engineer out of Apple, but you can’t take Apple out of the engineer.”
The big guys are duking it out again, and this time video chat is front and center. In the past few days Google unveiled Google+ with video “Hangouts”, Microsoft-owned Skype released the SkypeKit SDK and there is speculation that Facebook may announce next week it is bringing video chat to the social network.
There’s one thing missing in all of this. The web.
Google+ is surely a nice piece of work and Hangouts is great – and we love anything that makes video conversations more common – but these ‘new’ innovations are actually not new at all, they are alternatives to what we already have, just in a new location. They do nothing to help bring video chat to the web outside of the Hangout.
Over the last 24 hours, it seems like everyone on the planet has had something to share about the announcement of Microsoft’s acquisition of Skype. Opinions have been voiced on everything from the price paid by Microsoft (too high?) to the potential product integrations (everything from Outlook to XBox.) However, one commenter really struck a chord with me when they started to voice a perspective of what this acquisition means for the future of face-to-face video communications.