Evolution of Messaging: Why Video Calls Are Here to Stay
Now more than ever, people are using video calls to communicate effectively and efficiently. Here’s how communication has evolved over the years.
Messaging is nothing new. As humans, we’ve found ways to communicate back and forth with each other essentially since the dawn of time.
There were drawings in caves. There were letters written on parchment with ink and quill. There was the first ever email sent in 1971.
Sharing messages with each other isn’t a novel idea, but there’s no denying that the methods we’ve used to do so have evolved a lot over the years – and that’s true even if you look back only a couple of decades.
Consider this: Data from Pew Research Center shares that 85% of Americans now own a smartphone. Compare that to the mere 35% who owned a smartphone in 2011. That’s a monumental shift over the course of only 10 years.
It’s proof that communication is changing rapidly. And, as a result, communication technology is too.
How messaging has evolved through the years
In this post, Drift CEO David Cancel discusses the history of messaging and breaks it down into three distinct waves. The full piece is well worth a read for the complete history and context, but here are the nuts and bolts:
First wave of messaging (late 1990s to early 2000s): Instant messaging services like AOL Instant Messenger, Yahoo! Messenger, and MSN Messenger give people newfound access to digitally communicate with each other in real-time.
Second wave of messaging (mid 2000s): Mobile messaging services like Skype, Blackberry Messenger, and Google Talk provide the option to communicate on-the-go without being at a computer.
Third wave of messaging (late 2000s to early 2010s): Mobile messaging apps like WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and WeChat are driving what Cancel refers to as a “communication revolution,” where people actually prefer this type of messaging to other channels like voice calls.
It’s a fascinating progression that shows a cycle of sorts: Technology impacts our communication and, in turn, communication impacts advancements in technology.
Since that article was written in 2019, we can all agree that the world we’re living and working in today is quite a bit different than the one we were dealing with in 2019.
So, we like to think that we could now be in the fourth wave of messaging, and it can all be summed up with one word: video.
Video calls are the newest wave of messaging
Can you hear me okay? Can you see my screen? Oh, I think you’re frozen. And you’re on mute.
Sound familiar? Questions and sentiments like these became the unofficial battle cries of the COVID-19 pandemic, when lockdowns and stay-at-home orders sent most of us to our home offices, couches, or kitchen tables to work remotely and in isolation – for many people, for the very first time.
The required separation between families, friends, and work teams was definitely a boon to the third wave of instant and mobile messaging. WhatsApp reported a 40% increase in usage during March of 2020 and Slack’s concurrent users climbed from 10 million to 12.5 million in just 15 days between March 10 and March 25 of 2020.
But, as people became increasingly hungry for more authentic ways to connect with each other – whether it was to collaborate in a team meeting or keep their monthly book club running – video conferencing seemed to take on a whole new life during the pandemic. Data showed that all of that newfound time at home inspired a 23% increase in video conferencing mentions online.
Of course, video calls were gaining steam even ahead of mandated shutdowns, as remote work continued to gain prevalence among work teams. In fact, remote work has grown by 400% in the past decade alone.
But, the pandemic definitely pushed the pedal to the floor on the transition to video calls. From happy hours and sales calls to conferences and even entire weddings, many moments found their place in video.
Is video a passing fad or here to stay?
So, if you ask us (and we could be a little biased, given that we’re a video conferencing solution), we’re now in a fourth wave of messaging: video.
An unprecedented pandemic obviously accelerated this wave, and now it begs the question: Is video meetings just a passing fad? Will everybody drop their webcams as the world continues to move closer to “normal”?
We don’t think so. Especially with more companies implementing a hybrid model (where team members have autonomy to choose where they work), it seems like video is here for the long haul.
Why are video calls holding strong? Well, video calls offer a ton of advantages that you can’t necessarily get from our other communication methods and technologies, including:
Better connections: While there’s no replacement for a face-to-face conversation (something we all learned during the pandemic), video calls are a close second. It’s as close as we can come to replicating an in-person experience.
More engaging conversations: Similarly, studies show that video calls are more engaging and lead to richer interactions than other digital methods, because you can pick up on audiovisual cues.
Increased convenience and efficiency: With the option to screen share, split people into breakout rooms, integrate with apps you’re already using, and more, video calling can be far easier and more efficient than instant messages, emails, and audio calls.
The advantages are obvious, which means other advancements are already being made to video communication, such as:
Embedded video calls: Whereby Embedded gives people and businesses the option to build video calls directly into their own app or website, so people can join video conversations without navigating to a separate platform. For example, you could join a telehealth conference with your doctor right from your health portal.
Recorded video messages: It’s hard to replicate the value of a live video conversation, but apps for recorded video messages – like Loom, as just one example – also continue to gain steam as people search for asynchronous ways to communicate.
What’s next for the future of messaging?
The world of communication and communication technology moves quickly – after all, we’ve moved from handwritten memos to video calls in the span of only a few decades.
But, regardless of what the future holds, we think it’s a safe bet that video will continue to play a major role in how we interact and exchange ideas moving forward – both professionally and personally.