Tomorrow, Skype will appear in the app store for Sony’s magnificent handheld PlayStation Vita—and the device is perfect for it.
The Vita has two high quality cameras (forward and rear) and there are both Wi-Fi and 3G models capable of connecting to the Internet. Perfect for the gamer on-the-go who also wants to stay in touch with friends and family—and feels the need to get a picture with their voice call.
As always, when I think of mobile video-chat devices I hearken back to the old comic Dick Tracy and the video watches. The PS Vita doesn’t quite sit in that role comfortably but it does show that application-ready devices can grow out of their expected niche and reach into others. Currently smartphones are the shining stars of communication with gaming as a secondary; handheld gaming devices (with similar capabilities to smartphones) may be the reverse but have the same sort of multifunction.
The Skype app includes free Skype-to-Skype voice calling, as well as high quality video calling that utilizes PS Vita’s front and rear cameras. The Skype app on PS Vita runs in “background mode” while you’re gaming or using other applications — meaning you have the capability to “pause” a game, conduct a call and then return to your previous activity — so you never miss a call. Plus, with a little Skype credit you can make low-cost calls to landlines and mobile directly from your PS Vita.
One expectation we can have for the PS Vita over something like the iPhone is that Sony will seek to produce a quicker screen, better resolution, and possibly even higher quality cameras. Gamers are exacting creatures who crave speed and quality—although they’re willing to sacrifice quality for reactivity and speed in the end.
Skype and other VoIP entries have been seeking penetration into markets outside of computers and teleconference and they’re starting to show their teeth in the market. With the expected integration with Xbox meaning that hopefully we’ll be seeing video calls coming into the living room and its migration to Android, iOS, Windows Phone and other mobile devices. As a market, video-VoIP is good for mobile devices but with current data rates it might still be a little bit of a barrier for the common customer.
Although we’re starting to see companies like Sprint offer (actually) unlimited data deals, which might enable more customers to take advantage of the higher bandwidth of video calling from mobile devices.
I imagine a future where people with mobile devices can telepresence their friends into conversations, parties, concerts, events by using video-VoIP to broadcast into someone’s living room and back again. Imagine seeing a table full of friends at a bar on the big screen TV even though they’re in Boston and you’re in Phoenix.