Will Web Video Ever Pre-Empt The Airline Travel Nightmare?

With the airline industry in a state of complete chaos, will someone tell me why video on the Web (the fancy name for plain old videoconferencing) fails to take off? Like everyone else, I dread the discomfort, humiliation and uncertainty of air travel in the United States. If any technology ever had an opportunity handed to it on a silver platter, this is it. I mean, let's face it, anything is better than getting on an airplane these days.

Of course, as I write this I prepare to head to the airport to travel to Cisco's channel partner conference, where, in fact, Web video will be one of the new technologies that executives will talk plenty about. Cisco, along with Hewlett-Packard and others, has become a big player in Web video. It introduced a slick telepresence solution more than a year ago, and its channel executives have been stressing collaborative technologies like video for the channel to use in interfacing with company technology experts.

Still, video over the Web still hasn't really caught fire. (Just think of how many times the videophone has come and bombed; it's failed every hype test since the 1964 New York World's Fair.) Customers complain cheap video technology frustrates the user and expensive solutions are, well, just too expensive. Still, given the arrogance of the airline industry, it seems inconceivable that Web video isn't going to eventually have its day. Despite the drawbacks, it beats sitting on a packed, dirty airplane for six hours. I'm ready to sign up with Cisco. How about you?

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