The phone's ringing. Do I look good enough to pick up?
(Wow! The Videophone is finally within reach! So what's next?)
Burbank, California; December 14, 2001; Joan Marques, MBA, Doctoral Student
Ever thought of war-coverage through television as a marketing strategy? Well, the increase in demand of videophones is living proof! In a recently published article in the Business section of the Burbank Daily News (ed. December 13, 2001), this interesting new toy is placed in the spotlight. And it was to be expected. How long haven't we reminisced about the time when we would actually see the person on the other side while being on the telephone? The cameras on top of the computer screen did a nice job, but this satellite phone system has some magic that just thrills everyone's imagination.
So can you already picture it?
In the near future, telephone systems without video screen will be so outdated that no one will even consider buying them anymore. Now that?as the article states?equipment pricing has gone down, several institutions are already requesting installment of the videophone for use in their operations. That's just one step away from domestic use! It's the same development that the Internet went through, remember? First for military use only, and before you knew it, it became a global goal that every household should have access to the World Wide Web from the convenience of the living room.
According to the article about the current success of the videophone, it's all about marketing. The videophone has been around for quite a while already in certain organizations. Edwards (2000) mentions their use in nursing homes, together with other devices as teleconferencing equipment and Web cams, under the collective term "granny cams (p. 26). " Heller (2000) even refers to the video phone as one of the many functions of the near-future "home entertainment products [that] will be synched together, [whereby] a single remote will control all products (p. 25). Heller (2000) predicts that we will be able to "order video on demand, lower the shades and dim the lights while the monitor does double duty as a video intercom system or video phone (p. 25)." Whitford (1999) reveals the use of videophones in a classy New York hotel as a way to make "telecommunications  a lot more personal and convenient (p.38)." It's amazing to read how many of the predictions made then are everyday reality now.
But even though the videophone has been applied as a handy tool in several organizational settings before, creating a need for this device by the large public has never really happened up till now. A spokesperson of the company that currently booms with the satellite telephone system admits that their organization is not the first to come up with this product, but may be seen as the most inventive in finding ways to bring its product to the people. And there's the statement that many strategists in management have been emphasizing on: "Finding customers in unlikely places" (Burbank, Daily News, Dec. 13, 2001). Can you imagine a better market coverage for your product than having it used by CNN and MSNBC during global war-reports on television? So now everyone looks at the Videophone and thinks how cool this equipment is. Give it another year or so, and everyone will be able to get access to them. Give it yet another year or so, and the regular phone, as we know it now, is replaced at home, maybe even in the car, with a video-device. So that's when we won't pick up the phone anymore unless we're all showered and dressed.
However, I could bet my bottom dollar that, at this very moment, there is a battalion of companies working on an improved version of this system. Maybe upgrading the synchrony of movements, smoothening buttons, or improving the quality of the sound. These are the endless innovators who want to piggyback on the successes of the one company that "looked where no one else was looking". The ones that are too paralyzed to come up with a smart approach themselves. Nevertheless, the real successful one will be that one small company somewhere in a forgotten corner, who is now, while everyone is still mesmerized by the videophone, already looking for a complete different device, be it a gadget that enables you to "feel" the emotional state of mind of your counterpart on the other side, or maybe even stronger, something in a complete different area: like the facsimile machine that doesn't only fax documents but also goods. Yes, the parking lots in front of Ralph's, Von's, and K-Mart will be awfully empty and may in time even have to be used for other purposes, but grocery shopping WOULD be much neater (and less aggravating) if we could order the products while we see them (through the attached videophone on our supersonic fax-system), and have them home the same minute, not through a delivery-service, but through our own fax-machine.
Am I loosing touch with reality or what?
Bedell, D. (2001, Issue Date). Video phones beam in business. Daily News, pp. 2.
Edwards, D. (2000). All eyes are on granny cams. Nursing Homes, 49(11), 26-30.
Heller, L. (2000). Automated home concept creates new CE frontier. Dsn Retailing Today, 39(16), 25-26.
Whitford, M. (1999). Converging communications. Hotel and Motel Management, 214(7), 38.