Will Facebook Be the Catalyst for Airtime’s Success as a Mega Video Chat Service?
The mysterious and much hyped up Airtime is finally out. Both Sean Parker and Shawn Fanning took inspiration from the sudden success of Andrey Ternovskiy’s Chatroulette, who they both have been advising for some time, until they decided to make one of their own.
I think it will be difficult for Airtime to find its sweet spot in a market, which is dominated by Skype for both professional conferencing and home video chat, Google Hangouts for multi-user conferences and broadcast, UStream, again for broadcast, and a number of other more niche players.
Chatroulette has discovered a new market for entertainment video chat service and failed to capture it due to challenges with curation and maintaining “fit and proper” use.
Airtime is faced with a similar challenge where any extra control over user behaviour is likely to discourage usage and move customers back to conventional video chat services.
My hypothesis is that Airtime is trying to fit itself for the Facebook audience and usage profile, in order to create a natural FB video chat experience. One big question in this strategy, however, is ability to monetise the service. Extended user engagement on the site won’t necessarily lead to increased ad sales, while the last thing Facebook needs right now is another acquisition that won’t provide a straighforward mechanism to bring additional revenues into the pot.
Airtime Adds to a Growing Choice of Video Chat Services: