With advancements in smartphones and tablets, now in wide use globally, more people are taking to video calls as more telecommunication networks offer high bandwidth on Wi-Fi.
The trend has seen a dramatic change in the last few years, from people using the video chat services exclusively on desktops and laptops to increased usage on smartphones and tablets. Video chat companies have recently been a hit as global multi-billion companies plan takeovers and as the frontier opens up with more demand for video calls.
Just last week, Yahoo purchased OnTheAir, a video chat company, emulating the likes of Microsoft, who purchased Skype last year for $8.5 billion.
Microsoft has also created its own service on the Windows 8 mobile phone, while Apple has created FaceTime for use on its iPad.
On the Android platform alone, Skype has been downloaded more than 100 million times on phones.
According to Tango Mobile, voice chat has seen an increase of 200 new users daily on top of its 80 million known users. The shift is so rapid that not even the industry knows the total number of users.
In Kenya, the largest number of Skype users,according to findings, is in the Coast region, followed by Kisumu and Nairobi. This can be attributed to the increased number of tourists in the coastal and lake cities, while in Nairobi the high number of multinational companies drives the numbers.
Skype and Yahoo! Messenger usage in Kenya, however, seems to be contrary to the global trends with this year’s average lower than last year’s.
According to OneClick Business’s chief executive Boniface Mwambie, the drop in usage of Yahoo! Messenger could be as a result of its difficulty in integration of contacts with other social networks compared to Skype.
“It’s just a matter of preference. It’s easier to look for a contact in Skype that in Yahoo! Messenger. Then people have been moving to Skype because of the ability to call fixed lines and cell phones,” he notes.
The drop in overall interest in voice chats, he says, is still unexplainable.
Globally, video chats are expected to increase relative to rise in apps by companies, for example Google Plus alone now offers more than 200 apps.
The challenge is on telecommunication providers took keep up-to-date with advancements in technology to ensure they can also provide the necessary bandwidth. Local innovators must also create innovations to support the local market as the segment is currently foreign dominated even as demand soars.