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People aren’t clamouring for HD audio!

Rich Tehrani and Andy Abramson are talking HD audio and video today.  To say that they’re both effusive would be an understatement.  Plus, there’s no denying that higher quality audio is a great improvement to a phone call.

Rich begins his post saying:

Circuit switched telephony technology is now half a century old or so and it is the predominant way much of the world communicates. It is the lowest common denominator for all digitized communications. While consumers would never accept 1960s technology from auto or computer companies (please don’t mention the airlines) corporations should look to the PSTN as antiquated and legacy.

This, of course, is the crux of the matter.  Aside from a small number of enthusiasts, most consumers would quite happily accept old technology.  In fact, unless told, they would probably never notice the difference. 

In my world, I don’t see consumers clamouring for high definition audio and video.  I see them clamouring for mobility, with all of it’s attendant audio quality problems.  People put up with drop-outs, dropped calls, and more – all in the name of mobility. 

Like Rich and Andy, I think audio quality is important.  But we’re a definite minority.

{ 5 comments… add one }

  • Andy Abramson January 16, 2009, 7:49 am

    Alec,

    But the business market will pay for it.

    Andy

  • Andrew January 16, 2009, 3:06 pm

    Once you have used a HD audio/video solution you are never going to downgrade to PSTN quality again, the user experience is far superior.

    Not only will they pay for it, they will come to expect it.

  • jonathan christensen January 17, 2009, 8:26 am

    Alec,

    Are we "failing" or are we "sailing"?

    I agree that most consumers are not asking for it. They don't know what is possible. They take 100 years of narrowband audio for what it is.

    When we started Camino Networks my wife asked "tell me again what you guys are doing?". When I explained that we were enabling high quality audio calls, she told me that was not solving any problem.. That audio quality was just fine on the phone. I asked her how many times she had switched to a "landline" because of poor audio quality. Or spelled something to a customer service representative.. or said things like "F as in Foxtrot".. "N as in Nancy".. She told me that was "just how things are."

    Now she would agree with the last comment.. Once you experience it, you don't want to go back.

    In the business environment where conferencing happens all day long and where effective communication is critical, wideband audio makes a big difference. And it has become a standard part of the better IP based systems..

  • Tsahi Levent-Levi January 19, 2009, 3:00 am

    Alec,
    I think you make a very strong point – people would rather have more mobility than better quality.
    Businesses would like more quality. But again, if you'll ask a business user if he'd rather be able to connect from anywhere than have better call quality in the office… it will be mobility.
    HD will happen sooner or later, but I don't see HD audio making the same buzz has mobility anytime soon.
    Tsahi

  • Michael January 19, 2009, 6:59 pm

    "People put up with drop-outs, dropped calls, and more – all in the name of mobility."

    … NOT. We are producing a mobile softphone and people complain quite vividly if these things happen. And apart from the hardware not being ready, people would appreciate HD quality.

    "In fact, unless told, they would probably never notice the difference."

    Even my grandma notices the obvious difference between a Skype and a PSTN call 😉

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