"The big problem with personal videoconferencing is companies bring products to market that don't work with other products," says analyst Enderle. "I've been working on those projects since the mid 1980s, and they just don't work together."
"There are dozens of videoconferencing systems out there now, and have been for years," Wilsker adds. "We will get to interoperability one of these days between phones, and get used to using video. Young people are driving this. I met a 28 year old man from Turkey, and he uses Skype on his laptop to get cooking lessons from his mother, who's still in Ankara."
Lucky for the cooking student, his mother isn't scared of the camera, but many still are. "The biggest problem with videoconferencing for some companies is that some people are self-conscious about being on camera," Wilsker says.
Judging by the number of young people in YouTube videos, future workers won't have that problem. Add in the fact that Apple now provides cameras in front and back of the new iPads and iPhones, and an audio-only conversation may be rare in a few years.
Or you may log in and control a personal telepresence robot to move around the office and talk to people through the speaker and video screen on the robot. Anybots now has these for sale.
Plus, Avaya and others offer browser-based immersive environments for corporate collaboration.
The evolving office
No matter how quickly videoconferencing becomes mainstream, Tabor at RNL says employees have reasons to be in an office with other employees even if they often work anywhere. "Companies will have technology that users can't afford, so it will be centralized. Offices provide sociability, and maintain the company's brand and identity. There's still a need for office space.
Companies must now support four and five generations of workers, Tabor says, in one workspace, because Baby Boomers plan to work longer than previous generations. "Each will have a different set of expectations and demands, and there will be some accommodation of generational preferences. But younger people will drive the innovation, and the most successful older folks will be those who adapt to the newer way of doing things."
"One huge change for the future will come as we leverage Moore's Law and move processing to the cloud," Burrus says. "Watch that jump ahead as you can use a smartphone to access super computer capabilities in the cloud. How about having IBM's Watson in your smartphone?"