What kind of video conferencing service would you dream up given the chance to begin with a blank canvas backed by the funds of an international giant?
You can buy up any component parts you need, like picking from an all-you-can-devour smorgasbord of start-ups. You can target any audience, cater for enterprise or social users, connect with in-room technology or deliver from the cloud, scale for two or 200, and employ the latest emerging technologies to make your video calling platform unique.
Someone, or at least a group of someones, over at Amazon is dealing with this very fantasy right now.
Or so we think.
There’s been no formal announcement that Amazon wants to get in on the video conferencing market, but people in the tech world are picking up on some recent transactions and making connections about where the company is headed.
So, will it create something unique in video calling, or will it just leverage its established name and generate some safe brand-recognition sales?
Amazon on a Tech Buying Spree
This is all circumstantial evidence put together by some enquiring web minds, but their case is compelling:
- Amazon paid $970 million cash to acquire game-streaming service Twitch, seemingly to add to its cloud platform Amazon Web Services
- It paid $500 million for Elemental Technologies, makers of high-end mobile video coding software
- It acquired, for an undisclosed amount, video chat and messaging app maker Biba
It is the Biba purchase though, more than anything, that has started the Amazon Video Chat rumors. Those rumors maintain the company has already begun showing a demo version of its new service, although suggestions that Amazon was to formally unveil the new product at one of its November re:invent conferences proved unfounded.
But what if the rumors are true and Amazon is planning to rival Skype or Google Duo? What will we see?
Cloud-based Video Calling for Business
We’ve played hopeful guessing games before about what a major brand could bring to the video calling market, and been a little disappointed.
WhatsApp’s stealthy rollout of a video calling service promised a lot, but hasn’t even delivered group video calling…and invites to the contrary are a scam. So let’s be practical about a potential Amazon offering.
This is going to be cloud-based, and run in combination with the online retailer’s software as a service platform. It is likely to target business users and so operate in the mold of Skype for Business, a little conservative, but ultimately highly functional.
As Amazon currently owns by far the biggest share of public cloud usage, more than triple its nearest competitor, it might be able to rather quickly cobble together a directory of users, and establish a network of potential business matches, like a mix of Skype and LinkedIn, which is pretty much already on the way.
You’d hope for a nice user interface that could quickly get you connected to all those fellow Amazonians, as well as support for group video calls and screen sharing, recordable calls, and centralized moderating with the power to mute callers and block unwanted guests.
But we’ve seen all that before. What about something new?
Video Calling with the Internet of Things
A company as large as Amazon, and one that recently bought its way into the Internet of Things could surely add something unique to video calling. Imagine a browser-based video platform that could control the lighting, audio, screen resolution, and camera functions in an IoT-powered smart conference room.
Or one that could manage simple niceties like checking that your meeting calendar is matched up with an available conference room, stocking the coffee in your smart coffee maker, and contacting the caterers to make sure lunch is on the way.
Perhaps the new service could link with other SaaS products and run live security, accounts, and database reports specific to the video callers.
Or, Amazon could tie it in with its emerging online gaming offerings and situate video callers within an immersive, alternate reality. Video callers could chat from within a virtual world that gives them freedom of movement beyond a typical chat window.
There’s a lot of capital and tech know-how at Amazon’s disposal. Is it too much to hope for something revolutionary?