10 years ago in 2007, Steve Jobs described it 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 videoconferencing?
2010: Front-Facing Camera
Consumer mobile video conferencing had been around in places like Japan for a while, who was well ahead others with a solid 3G network. However, it was not until the iPhone 4 was released in 2010 that enterprise-grade videoconferencing became mainstream, and manufacturers started paying attention by building apps. iPhone 4 was the first iPhone to include a front-facing camera module. The iPhone was now a great videoconferencing device, and even came with FaceTime⸺also launched with iOS 4.
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. Clearsee 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 videoconferencing, 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 being via room systems (Cisco, Polycom, BlueJeans Huddle, etc), our own BlueJeans desktop app, Skype for Business, or via 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 Huddle! That means you can access your meetings just by walking into a Huddle 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.
You can see how BlueJeans leverages the iPhone to join meetings in Huddle Rooms at: bluejeans.com/huddle/demo
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.