Chang Feng, VP technology and innovation, of ooVoo, the video chat and messaging service, is delivering a conference keynote on Day Three of the Broadband World Forum 2012, taking place on the 16 – 18 October 2012 at the RAI Exhibition and Convention Centre, Amsterdam, the Netherlands. Ahead of the conference we talk to him about how ooVoo fits in with current trends and what are its major challenges and opportunities it faces.
How is ooVoo different from its competitors in the online video communication space?
ooVoo is the largest independent operator in the consumer video communication space today with 55 Million+ registered users and over one billion video minutes served per month. ooVoo’s quality leads the competition as demonstrated by third party studies and we continue to dedicate great amount of resources to the research and development of cutting edge core audio video technologies and service infrastructures. ooVoo is at the forefront of innovation in terms of delivering exciting brand new consumer experiences by organically merging communication, social networking, and online content consumption.
Facebook has obviously changed the way hundreds of millions of people communicate. We see people using Facebook to share with their friends where they “were” and what they “were doing”. With ooVoo we are seeing an even more communications rich platform – a form of group interaction where social video enables consumers to easily share where they “are” and what they “are doing”.
What is more important to ooVoo – great average broadband speeds or greater coverage?
ooVoo offers an internet scale service therefore can benefit from both increased broadband speed and greater coverage. Higher broadband speeds would enable ooVoo to provide better quality service. Greater coverage enables ooVoo to reach more users.
As average speeds increase is there less pressure on the need to improve the efficiency of video and audio codecs?
Improving efficiency (and functionality) of video and audio codecs will continue to be important. We have been hearing this argument for more than 10 years but still today a top performance codec is still critical to any video communication system such as ooVoo. The evolution of online multimedia services has so far proven that application developers will always find ways to leverage the additional speed/bandwidth available to deliver a richer user experience and better quality of service to the customer.
How important is the mobile space to ooVoo?
The mobile space is very important to ooVoo. The brand launched a mobile product in 2011 and today it accounts for almost half of the total usage and nearly all of our growth. As the broader internet usage paradigm continues to shift from fixed to a combination of fixed and mobile, the future of successful group communications depends on how well services are experienced by users in cross-platform situations – connecting desktops with mobile devices regardless of operating systems and protocols.
What are the challenges you expect to face as we move from fixed to mobile centric applications and services?
The main challenges as we see it are network quality of service, mobile endpoint fragmentation, and effective monetisation on the mobile platform.
What principles do you adhere to when building customer-friendly apps and services?
ooVoo is a social video platform— which means fun. To be fun it needs to be easy to use and easy to share with friends. Being multi-platform is a key part of that. We never want a customer to feel as of they “wish” ooVoo would do something. We want to stay ahead of our customers’ expectations.
Would ooVoo look to custom build applications for individual mobile platforms or take a one size fits all approach?
ooVoo strives to deliver to our customers a coherent cross-platform user experience with an optimized UX and performance on each supported device platform. As such, we build the mobile versions of ooVoo software as native applications.
What new opportunities do you expect to emerge as consumers become increasingly connected?
Multi-screen viewing is one of the most interesting consumer behaviors we are encountering. Nearly 50 per cent of ooVoo callers are watching TV while connected on ooVoo. This is the beginning of completely new social video phenomena that we are experimenting with and encouraging. Our customers and our advertisers are equally engaged in the process. I see great potentials that new engaging services and innovative advertising models can be discovered and developed in this organic blurring of visual communication, social networking, and online content consumption. This paradigm shift in consumer behaviour is providing exciting new opportunities to both existing players and new start ups.
What advice would you give to those looking to innovate in today’s internet community?
Be crystal clear about the specific problem you are trying to solve. Know your users. Quality matters.