Since at least the days of the Jetsons, we've expected that video phones would someday be the standard method of communication. While several videophones have launched over the last decade-and-change, none of them have managed to gain any popularity. Skype allows video chatting, and for the last few years webcam equipped notebooks have acted as a sort of poor man's overly-bulky video phone.
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Now Saygus has launched an Android smartphone that claims to be the first mobile in America with 2-way video calling. On its own, the Saygus is fairly easy to dismiss as a gimmick. It's got a middling processor and nothing else to set it apart as 'special'. After reading this Android & Me report about Google's Gizmo 5 acquisition, however, things were thrown into stark relief.
Gizmo5 is an Internet-phone service much like Skype. The only reason I can think of for such a purchase is that Google intends to start offering a VOIP service. A service that is likely to include 2-way video conferencing. Gizmo5 offers video calling, and their team of developers are being integrated into the Voice team.
So we've got Saygus putting out a videophone, and Google buying a VOIP provider that offers video calling. Oh, and the new Vega tablet also has a front-facing camera.
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It's too early in the game to predict exactly what Google's game plan is, but I think it's clear they intend to start offering VOIP services through Voice as well. Video conferencing is likely to be a big part of that service, and I think we'll see 2-way video functionality on an increasing number of Android handsets. It's possible that 2010 will be the year we start seeing the first popular, mass produced video phones hit the market. Next step; flying cars and cloud cities.