Kevin Kieller
Kevin Kieller is a partner with enableUC, a company that helps measure, monitor and improve UC and collaboration usage and...
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Kevin Kieller | February 13, 2011 |


Is Video the New Voice?

Is Video the New Voice? Video is good; video is definitely useful; and even so, video is not the new voice.

Video is good; video is definitely useful; and even so, video is not the new voice.

"Video is the new voice". Nice slogan.

When John Chambers, CEO of Cisco, says it, I want to believe him.

I really do like the slogan. I like the alliteration. It is simple, clear and concise, all the things a good slogan should be.

It is also based on a proven template: "a is the new b". Doing a Google search for the phrase "is the new black" yields over 7 million hits! We find that red, green, cheetah, orange, frost, pink, white, wine, brown, and camel, amongst others, are all the new black.

So we have a good slogan following a proven template; but is video the new voice? I suspect not.

Video is good; video is definitely useful; and even so, video is not the new voice.

In order to understand why I believe video is not the new voice, let's look at the evolution to voice communications. And what voice is.

Drums, Smoke and Voice
First there were drums. Under ideal conditions, messages sent by drum sound could be understood at 8 km (5 miles) (Wikipedia).

Smoke signals passed from tower to tower allowed messages to be relayed as far as 300 miles in only a few hours according to HowStuffWorks. (The site also provides details on how to send your own smoke signals should you conclude that "smoke is the new voice".) The Vatican still uses different colored smoke to communicate during the election of a new Pope: Black smoke means no pope.

In the 1790s the semaphore system (i.e. flag waving) played a key part in the French revolution.

Drums, smoke and flags all shared the drawback that anyone could intercept the message, hence often coded messages were employed.

In the early 1800s the electric telegraph was first being experimented with. In 1866 the first transatlantic electric telegraph message was transmitted.

The telephone was first demonstrated to the world at the 1876 Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia. In 1877 the Bell Telephone Company was formed. The era of voice was at hand.

By the end of 2009, there were a total of nearly 6 billion telephone subscribers worldwide. This included 1.25 billion fixed-line subscribers and 4.6 billion mobile subscribers.

Voice via the telephone was ubiquitous. Every home, every office, every hotel, every restaurant and, in the year 2000, 2 million pay phones in the U.S, all provided you with a voice connection.

Because a voice connection was available anywhere, it was easy to call when you "got there", call if you were going to be late, or find a phone booth and call for directions if you got lost (although many would say this was never easy for most of us men!)

With the advent of the mobile phone, voice became even closer, virtually always at hand, or for the geekier of us, strapped to our belts in a little leather pouch. Now you could call to say you were arriving even as you pulled up. You could call to say you would be late even while still desperately speeding to your destination. You could call for directions in the car before you got hopelessly lost (although still this seemed difficult for most of us men).

Especially with the adoption of mobile phones, the "old voice" was accessible almost everywhere; it was quick and easy, and it was mostly private (as long as you didn’t talk too loud).

So any "new voice" should also be accessible, quick, easy and mostly private.


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