Video conferencing is becoming an attractive tool for businesses for a number of reasons: reducing travel costs, accommodating remote workers and even simplifying the hiring process. As our recent mobile study concluded, however, video conferencing may be the much-needed solution to engaging the growing volume of mobile meeting attendees. As mobile and video collide, we couldn’t help but wonder how this week’s new iPhone announcement could impact the future of conferencing.
Plus-sized smartphone screens still no match for tablets for video conferencing
Despite Apple’s recent release of the highly anticipated, larger iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, their viability for video conferencing is debatable. While video conferencing is certainly developing a strong mobile component, this has been and will likely continue to be heavily concentrated around tablet users.
Larger phones may encourage greater use of FaceTime and other one-to-one video chat applications, but the displays simply remain too small to effectively manage multi-windowed conferences or webcasts. Even at 4.7 and 5.5 inches, respectively, the new iPhone 6 and 6 Plus could contribute to an awkward at best video conferencing experience.
For companies looking to adopt mobile conferencing, tablets are the future.
Screen size is only half the challenge facing smartphone video conferencing: usability remains a significant hurdle. As the user interface is scaled down to fit on a smaller display, some controls must remain disproportionately large to remain usable, blocking much of the actual conference window. While fading menus and burying controls in a settings menu are viable solutions, the fact remains that video conferencing via phone is simply less intuitive and more challenging than doing so via tablet.
Size and seamless integration matter with video conferencing
As tablets make headway in the workforce by replacing laptops in some instances, they are also the go-to solution for mobile video conferencing. Tablets enjoy ample screen size and continue to follow in the footsteps of their smartphone counterparts (rumors are already swirling around a potential 12.9 inch iPad release early next year). As tablet screen sizes continue to approach and even surpass those of small laptops, their advantages over smartphones for video conferencing become more apparent.
Tablets are specifically designed to meet the instant-on, work anywhere environment of increasing numbers of workers and workplaces. Paired with a few key accessories (e.g., detachable keyboards) tablets can supply all the conferencing capabilities of a laptop with the added portability and more versatile design.
Another prominent advantage enjoyed by tablets is their increasing acceptance as a mainstay of the corporate work environment. Rather than a single application run on a (often personal) smartphone, video conferencing on tablets presents opportunities to better integrate within a company’s existing IT ecosystem.
For example, a tablet-based mobile video conferencing strategy may integrate more smoothly into a UC solution than one fragmented between corporate and personal devices with varying levels of security controls. As tablet adoption maintains its momentum in the corporate space, with nearly half of businesses deploying tablets according to Frost & Sullivan, this advantage will carry particular weight when deciding on a mobile video conferencing strategy.
As firms look to expand their video conferencing solutions to incorporate mobile devices, they must consider which devices will best fulfill this need. Smartphones offer the most portable solution, but their small screen size and lack of corporate oversight may make them less attractive choices than tablets. At the same time, there is little organizations can do to sway employees away from the strong pull of Apple’s newest gadgets.
Companies may not be able to sway their staff’s purchasing habits, but business leaders can take those opinions into consideration when developing a mobile conferencing strategy. The iPhone 6 and 6 Plus will undoubtedly have a large influence on consumer smartphone usage, but in the mobile video conferencing realm, tablets are still king.
Need a mobile conferencing solution? Check out our App: MobileMeet.
To get started with InterCall and take advantage of MobileMeet,
try Unified Meeting 5 free for 30 days.
What do you think? Do you use a tablet or smartphone when joining video conferences while on the go?