For this exercise, we will be focusing on three different telecommunication products: Skype, Google Hangouts, and the InFocus Mondopad. Let’s start with a brief overview of each product.
A Brief Overview of Skype
Skype is known today as one of the most popular communication applications used for calls over the Internet. Chances are that you’ve used it, or at least have heard about it enough to know what it does. Skype’s main draw comes from its relatively easy-to-use interface that allows you to call another Skype user via voice calls or video calls. Founded in 2003, Skype was quickly acquired by eBay in 2005 for approximately $2.5 billion (and eBay stock); by 2006, Skype had reached 100 million users total and there was no doubt that it was impacting the way people communicated across the globe.
Shortly after, eBay began to think it had overvalued Skype’s worth, and in 2009 eBay sold about 70% of Skype to various investors. Although a company like eBay losing faith in Skype could have been detrimental for Skype’s value, Skype continued to push ahead and develop its product across various platforms. That turned out to be a great mindset—just two years later, Microsoft acquired Skype for a whopping $8.5 billion!
Microsoft has been quick to integrate Skype into many of its products and platforms as possible and continues to develop Skype to meet the needs of the users. With features such as Skype-to-Skype calls and video calls, calls to home and cell phones, group video calls, instant messaging, file sharing, and more, it’s no wonder that Skype retains its status as one of the most powerful communication tools in the industry.
A Brief Overview of Google Hangouts
Google Hangouts is a communication platform that emerged when Google decided to combine three of its own products (Google Talk, Google+ Messenger, and Hangouts) into one. Instant messaging, video chat, SMS (Short Message Service), and VOIP (Voice to IP) features are the main components of Google Hangouts, and if you own an up-to-date Android phone, Google Hangouts is the default application you’ve been using for your text messages!
Google’s non-unified suite of messaging services—while all very effective in their efforts—made for a very disjointed experience when trying to communicate with other users. One application was used for messaging while simultaneously another was used for videoconferencing. This gave competitors like Facebook Messenger an advantage. Determined to keep their brand name relevant within the communication industry, Google used multiple development teams to create a new messaging product that would provide these services in one easy-to-use package.
In May of 2013, Google Hangouts launched—but its reception was not as amazing as expected. Many have criticized Google Hangouts for the way it is severely integrated into Google+ (Google’s social media platform), the fact that it has many potential security flaws, and that its code is not open to independent review and does not allow for multi-chat clients to support Google Hangouts. Regardless, Google Hangouts—especially with its integration into Android devices—is still a main contender in the communication industry and will most likely remain a contender for years to come.
A Brief Overview of the InFocus Mondopad
The first thing you might be wondering is…what in the world is a Mondopad? You may have heard this word being used throughout SAPL (or you may have seen one in action), as there are currently five branches that have at least one Mondopad: Carver, Cortez, Bazan, Encino, and Westfall. The Teen Library at Central recently received a Mondopad as well. At first glance, a Mondopad might look like a really big TV monitor—but it is so much more than that…
The Mondopad debuted in early 2012 to much wonder. In a world where devices are getting thinner and smaller every year, the large Mondopad (which can range from 55 inches to a whopping 80 inches in screen size) seemed like an odd direction to go. But when you look at the details, you can see the reasoning behind its conception: Mondopads replace the need for a separate PC, projector, webcam, videoconferencing unit, and smart board because a Mondopad incorporates all of these elements into one device. People can present, annotate, communicate, and collaborate with other people in the same room or in a different country.
While the Mondopad is not necessarily marketed for home-use, it has made an impact in the education and business sectors because of the degrees of interactivity it provides. The possibilities are endless: groups of students from two different countries can work together on school projects; from the Mondopad at their local library, a community can watch and participate in a city hall meeting downtown; Colleagues can have a videoconference while drafting a business proposal and surfing the web for additional resources–Now that’s collaboration. Although the Mondopad hasn’t avoided criticism—such as its steep price (around $6,000 for its base product)—its innovative approach to combining the key elements of telecommunication into one seamless unit makes it a product to watch.
SKYPE, HANGOUTS, & MONDOPADS @ SAPL
So how can we use something like these three products at SAPL—both for ourselves internally, as well as with our patrons? Let’s find out.