Today saw the launch of Airtime, the first live video network:

“Airtime is the most efficient, easy to use, browser-based video chat service between friends using their existing Facebook networks. The service allows you to share live experiences through content, and expand beyond your social graph to discover new people through similar interests in an environment that is collaborative, fun and safe.”

Here’s their overview video to give you a quick guide to what’s what on Airtime:

What can you do on Airtime?

  • You can locate your friends in the list on the right side of the screen. To call them, you click on the video camera icon next to their name. To start a chat, click on their name.
  • If your friend does not answer a call after several rings, you can leave a short video message. They will receive a notification that your video message is waiting at Airtime.
  • You can also meet new people by clicking “Talk to Someone.” Airtime pairs you with other users based on the information in your profile and the criteria that you select. Once you’re paired with someone, you can see the interests and friends you have in common in the center of the screen. You remain anonymous to the other user until you send an “add” request or accept the other user’s “add” request.

Overall, Airtime feels like Google Hangouts for Facebook users.

There are some differences though. You can also play Youtube videos to your friends while you chat to them, but it still seems to be just one-to-one video chatting at the moment. Pretty soon we should get group chat, which will put Airtime on a par with Google+, in terms of video conferencing.

Airtime launches at an interesting moment, with Skype just rolling out its “Skype for Business” beta just last week. This new platform allos you to hold group video conferences, but with the added option of charging viewers of your video chat. Great for consultants or small businesses who want to offer training and consultancy from remote locations.

Video is the way forward then, but each of the platforms mentioned here already seem to have their distinct audiences:

  • Airtime: Facebook users
  • Skype for Business: Small businesses and freelancers
  • Google Hangouts: Google employees ;)

What do you think? Will you be giving Airtime plenty of airtime?