NewsForge is running a story about MontaVista being selected to power Amstrad video phones, essentially turning the videophone into a small Linux PC capable of handling telecommunications as well as email and gaming.
It’s a cool concept, but I still don’t see the widespread appeal of videophones. Despite what Hollywood would have us believe, these things just don’t seem to be very popular. Webcams are arguably still a niche, and despite the availability and occasional push of audio and video emails, I have yet to receive one. (And I know a lot of gadget freaks.)
I remember seeing an old AT&T video phone at a Highland store (remember those? “50 watts per channel, babycakes!”) in Lombard, Illinois, back in the late ’80s. My folks had just bought a new stereo system. While waiting for the financing to come through, my father and I had a lot of fun with the videophones and their freeze-frame features. They were fully-functioning displays, though I don’t recall if they were actually for sale or what they would have cost. They disappeared prety quick.
My mom made the comment that she’d probably keep it covered 90% of the time, and now that I think about it, I probably would, too. I’ve been debating adding my webcam to the Lockergnome webcam community, but I’m not sure I (or you) want my fat ass on display while I’m at work. You might get a kick out of seeing my kid (2 1/2 yrs old) thrashing to “Du Hast”, but that’s about it.
I guess it will be up to Amstrad to figure out if the world’s finally ready for these things. I also wonder how long it will be before the 1-900-sex-line industry picks them up. (You laugh, but lately the adult entertainment industry has been the first to embrace new technologies. Only a matter of time.)