During the past couple of weeks I have come to appreciate just how simple and easy it has become to send Video Messages to friends on Facebook. While the concept of a video phone dates back to the work of AT&T and their demonstrations at the 1964 World’s Fair, it has taken the advent of the Video application on Facebook and it’s general ease of use to get me to take the time and use it as part of my daily (Internet) life. While I have discovered how the Facebook video application can be used in various ways, my favorite is to send a personal video message to a friend.
— My Favorite Facebook Application: Video, Jeff Pulver, Jeff Pulver blog, August 27, 2007
While a telco did invent or at least publicize the videophone, forty years later it's an Internet application that delivers something like it on a mass scale. And maybe one reason the Facebook version of it is popular is that it isn't quite like what AT&T predicted: it isn't interactive television. Experience indicates people don't necessarily want to be seen live any old time regardless of their state of dress or coffee.
And more obviously, there's no fancy equipment to buy, so the worldwide clientele is already there on the Internet. It's the difference between distributed participation and being sold a centralized service.