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Video E-Mail And The In-box

For either category, HTML messaging is a massive improvement over the unformatted text memo, but the number of messages going to the next stage—including the moving images and synchronized voice of the message’s human source as part of the experience—continues to be exceedingly small.

Obstacles On The Road To Success
Previous generations of video mail and messaging technologies have not been successful due to three major sources of trouble. The first source is the send and receive terminal itself. Playing a local video file is not necessarily hard but the computationally intensive task of capturing and compressing a video file for transfer routinely exceeded the capabilities of PCs with less than 900MHz CPUs. Until very recently, Windows operating systems were not sufficiently stable and "multimedia" aware for video mail products (receiver or transmitter) to render a repeatable and business quality experience, and most business PCs lacked speakers and microphones, not to mention appropriately connected cameras. As a result of the lack of standards and support in operating systems, playing or creating a custom video mail might have required downloading and installing a proprietary application or opening a separate window. Finally, there has not been integration of video as a mail data type in mainstream messaging clients.

For those with all the computing power and audio video accessories at their fingertips, networks frequently presented additional problems. The local loop bandwidth might be too low or the recipient of the message might not have a persistent connection. More recently there are problems with spam filters and virus protection software. Here enterprise server-based systems might detect video mail attachments and interpret them as threatening and would delete them from the e-mail, if the e-mail were delivered at all.

Finally, as if these two technological hurdles were not enough, the technologies proposed by developers in this category failed to receive continued funding for their efforts because in the face of these many issues, the economic climate and the lack of demand on the part of individuals or marketing organizations, the business cases for video mail could not be made. For proof of concept trials, or implementations on small scales, the price points remain higher than people are willing to spend.

The culminating effect of these obstacles is that, to date at least, very few consumers or business users have had compelling experiences with video mail. Looking at the exceptions to this rule and the latest advances in the video mail technology field, there are indications that video mail and marketing will get a few more chances to infiltrate the inbox.

Next Page: Video Mail on Main Street

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