As video chat becomes easier, text chats still rule

Sean Parker and Google are both pushing group video chat products pretty hard right now. Parker’s latest product is Airtime, and Google’s is the Google+ Hangout. The idea, it seems, is that video conference calls offer a better, more social experience.

But based on my totally unscientific research and observations about how I communicate with friends and family, phone calls are pretty much out, as are video chats. Text messaging is the preferred method of communication; I really only video chat with friends and family who are abroad, and because of time differences, these happen pretty infrequently. Phone calls, and voicemail especially, are seen as almost rude impositions among my friends. So I have serious doubts about Airtime and Google+ Hangouts.

But the main reason I’m skeptical that my peer group will adopt video chat is because of an app called I’d Cap That, which my friends have wholeheartedly embraced. The app adds a random sort of edgy, and perhaps NSFW, caption to a user’s photo. (The new paid version, released today, allows for custom captions.) See the I’d Cap That Twitter page for a sampling of captions.

This is how the communication chain tends to work with this app: One person sends an embarrassing photo with a sophomoric caption to a group of friends and laughter ensues, followed by a flood of group text messages. It’s playful social interaction that is kept in a tight circle of friends and not shared over larger social networks.

And judging by the ads Google aired for its hangouts, this is pretty much the playful kind of group exchange Google had hoped to foster via its video chat platform. The main difference of course is that it’s all done over text, so interactions are quick and easy.

Your app likely won’t make you rich

– Paras Chopra is an entrepreneur and the director of online analytics startup Visual Website Optimizer. The views expressed are his own. –

Sorry for crushing your dreams but your Web app for tracking happiness levels (or for “social-aware” to-do lists) is probably not going to make enough money to let you retire in Hawaii.

Many programmers and developers find making a Web app very satisfying and there is nothing wrong with that – as long as you are doing it for fun, it’s OK.

Toura finds niche, now must exploit it: experts

Toura’s Web-based tool that creates virtual museum tours for handy download onto a visitor’s mobile device is exciting, but experts said founder Aaron Radin needs to get some more big-name clients on board and ramp up sales to fully command the space.

Radin, who launched Toura with co-founder Sayoko Knight Teitelbaum 18 months ago, has already created apps for the Art Institute of Chicago, Washington’s the Smithsonian Institute, the Pace Gallery in New York and the London Royal Academy of Arts. In addition Toura’s app publishing platform has been used to produce some shopping and travel guides (read the original story here).

“It was clear to me that any museum has content or has access to content and either through lack of technology or access to technology, they did not necessarily have a way to take that content and distribute it to what is obviously an increasing audience – peoples’ mobile devices,” said Radin, who offers his proprietary Web-based publishing tool – The Toura Mobile App Producer – to clients for free in exchange for a 50-50 split of the revenues from each downloaded app, which ranges from 99 cents to $5.99.

App is crap

- Mark Suster is a partner at Los Angeles-based venture capital firm GRP Partners and the author of the blog “Both Sides of the Table”. The opinions expressed are his own. -

I recently wrote a blog post entitled App is Crap: Why Apple is bad for your health, in which the thrust of the argument is that the technology ecosystem will be better served by applications on mobile devices that work inside your browser, rather than applications you download onto your device.

The downloaded world is a hugely costly proposition for software developers and also makes it harder for new phone manufacturers to produce products. Neither is good for innovation in the long run.