Question: What's the best way to share a video message between an Android, an iPhone and a Windows Phone?
Over the weekend, we received a video message from my two-year-old niece, and wanted to reply to and share that message among the family. A simple enough ambition, you might think.
So far as I can tell, however, there is no video messaging service or app that works in this scenario. What the industry offers instead is a mixture of fragmented, proprietary solutions and halfway-house hack-arounds.
iPhone users are OK because they, at least, can send videos via iMessage to other iOS users. There are a lot of iPhones, and this is a classic example of the ecosystem effect at play. But it's not much use if you want to communicate with people on Android, Windows or BlackBerry devices.
So, short of the entire world converting to iPhone, what are the options?
The messaging app Whatsapp is, in theory, a prime contender. It is supported on the major device OSes and is a cross-platform smartphone messaging service. Importantly, it allows you to send video messages. Although with file sizes limited to 12MB, this means just four seconds of video on my Samsung Android device ... hardly enough time to wish someone "Happy Birthday." Even then, it only works between users that have Whatsapp installed.
After that, the options get very sparse indeed....
You could email the video as an attachment, but this becomes more like office work than a spontaneous moment of communication. Or you could upload the video to YouTube, Facebook or Dropbox, and send a Web link to the recipients. Again, this works, but it breaks the experience and is more for the "determined hobbyist" than the ordinary user.
The telco-defined Multimedia Messaging Service (MMS) is not much better. Yes, it works across all the device platforms, but not very well and not in a way that will build mass-market participation.
Video messaging shouldn't be this difficult. We have the devices and networks to make it happen, but nobody to pull it all together. For whatever reason, neither telecom service providers nor the myriad of "over-the-top" application providers has been able to create a coherent, interoperable video messaging service for the mass-market.
It can't be that hard, can it?
â€” Gabriel Brown, Senior Analyst, Heavy Reading