Airtime Video Chat Service – Is the Time for Video Chat Finally Here?
A new video chat offering called Airtime launched its service with an event (complete with all the star power you could want) that was long on pizazz, but short on many of the answers that have followed the start-up from the beginning.
Of course the launch was shadowed the decades old question of whether we really want to include video chat as a part of our everyday lives, and was further complicating with a few technical glitches as well. All that aside, there is certainly no question that Airtime has been the talk of the tech world, largely because it is backed by Sean Parker and Shawn Fanning, but still many questions remain.
Parker and Fanning are perhaps best know from their work on Napster (and for Parker, Facebook) so they bring significant IT star power to the table. However, the lingering question is whether they have created an offering that is significantly different than ChatRoulette, Skype, or Google Hangouts. Parker and Fanning believe they do have a business model that differentiates their service in a couple of ways. First, they believe Airtime is simply easier to use. There are no downloads to install, and you can be ready to chat in no time. They contend that the application will be so simple, that you grandmother could use it. Secondly, they believe the interactions will be more fun, more shared, and create a “hang out” atmosphere thus create community, not just a video chat.
Among the potential uses are random chats with those who share profile attributes. In essence, you will be able to randomly chat with people who share your interests in a community setting. A Facebook interface will use the information already included in your Facebook profile to fully integrate with Airtime. The thinking is that you will carry your Facebook life into the video realm, and interact in real time with you Facebook community.
With a remarkable $33.5 million in funding, Airtime is certainly poised to become an interesting property in the online world, and with friends like Jim Carrey, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Ed Helms, Olivia Munn, and Joel McHale they will certainly have the cool factor on their side. It remains to be seen whether Airtime will make any really inroads into the online video chat world, but one thing is clear, it will be interesting to watch the effort.