Words by c.z.robertson

More on videophones

2003-03-13 10:31:13 UTC

No letter in the Grauniad this week. Last week John Harper made a slightly sniffy response to mine, so this week I wrote the following, but it wasn't printed.

John Harper believes that it will take the involvement of BT to produce videophones. However, there's no incentive for BT to do so.

BT are faced with a choice: Harper suggests that they should invest in a videophone network. This is a bad strategy. A dedicated network will be obsolete before the decade is out. At some point, videophone over IP will be as easy as email. The existence of an IP-based system will drive down the prices that BT are able to charge and make it unlikely that the investment will pay off.

The alternative is that they wait for the rest of the market to create videophone over IP services and improve their internet connectivity offerings to meet the increasing demand. They're going to have to improve internet connectivity anyway, so there's little risk in this strategy.

Using videophone software on a PC is not ideal, but it's a good way to get the ball rolling. There's nothing to prevent anyone from manufacturing better videophone over IP hardware as the market for it increases.

That was all I could fit into a letter. I would have liked to have pointed out that John Harper was putting words into my mouth. I don't actually believe that the traffic is all that bad (congestion charging is great), nor that videophones are the solution everyone needs. Personally, I think walking is the solution most people need.

There were a few other things I was planning to write here about markets, but I got bored.