Gini Dietrich

Airtime Rivals Skype and Google Hangouts

By: Gini Dietrich | July 11, 2012 | 

Well, Sean Parker and Shawn Fanning, both of Napster fame (and later Sean Parker, played by Justin Timberlake in The Social Network) are at it again.

This time with a video chat service that is said to rival Skype and Google Hangouts.

I’m not sure it’s better than either of those services, but it’s Justin Timberlake’s alter ego so we have to talk about it, right?!

The Airtime Story

The current video platforms are designed to talk to only people you know. But Parker and Fanning met in a chat room 15 years ago, not knowing one another at all, and that turned into creating more than one business together. They missed the serendipitous nature of these kinds of meetings so decided to recreate them using today’s technology.

And, as luck would have it, it’s open only to those who have a Facebook account (coincidence? I think not).

Just for Facebook Friends?

Which begs the question, if Facebook is a social network for the people you already know, how can they recreate the chance meeting?

It’s not yet open to everyone and you have to have a minimum number of friends to participate (they don’t say what that number is), but it’s pretty easy to get it installed and started…if you meet their criteria.

Try Airtime

Go to the Airtime site, click “launch application,” allow it to connect to Facebook, and then it brings up a list of friends who also are online and have the app installed.

On the right-hand side of your screen, you’ll see a list of friends and, if there is a video icon next to their name (when you scroll over it), you can video chat with them right then and there.

But let’s say you want that chance meeting Parker and Manning describe.

After you sign in, you can meet new people by clicking “Talk to Someone.” The software pairs you with other users based on the information in your profile and the criteria you select, such as your hometown, friends of friends, or the interests you’ve added to your profile.

Once you’re paired with someone, you can see the interests and friends you have in common by clicking the Airtime logo in the center of the screen. You remain anonymous to the other user until either of you sends an “Add” request and the other person accepts it.

It’s kind of a slick little app. All I know is now I’m going to have to stop working in my cycling clothes, if I want to use this tool to connect with friends (and non-friends) far and wide.

A version of this first appeared at Shift Digital Media.

About Gini Dietrich

Gini Dietrich is the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, an integrated marketing communications firm. She is the author of Spin Sucks, co-author of Marketing in the Round, and co-host of Inside PR. She also is the lead blogger at Spin Sucks and is the founder of Spin Sucks Pro. Join the Spin Sucks   community!

  • Signed up after reading this the first time, still haven’t tried it out. Maybe when life slows down. I’m too busy keeping busy…

    • rustyspeidel

       @KenMueller Gawd. 

    •  @KenMueller LOL!!!

  • bryanwillmert

    Wasn’t this once called  Chatroulette? lol

    •  @bryanwillmert That’s what I thought! LOL.

      •  @Anthony_Rodriguez  @bryanwillmert It was! They’re trying again…

  • Cycling clothes? I would have to start working ‘in’ my clothes…..and that’s in my office…….it does keep the drop in visits down to a minimum however…..

    • rdopping

      Damn you  @bdorman264  I was going to say “Now I have to start working in something more than my underwear (at home). Anyway, may give it a whirl. I really do need some (more) friends.

      •  @rdopping  You really do need more friends.

        • rdopping

           @ginidietrich I hear I can buy them on twitter.

        •  @rdopping You CAN buy them on Twitter! Lots of built-in friends!

    •  @bdorman264 We all know you work in a jacket and tie…and a Speedo on the bottom.

      •  @ginidietrich Anchorman; only interested in the head shot….:). 

  • My system crashed the two times I tried to launch it. Damn Apple Computers.

    •  @TheJackB Really? I’ve had no problem with it on my Mac.

  • One of my clients and I am giving up on Skype. Granted we use the free service but it doesn’t work. It drops every 2-3 minutes and is very frustrating. Ever since facebook bought them they have tanked. Maybe this is foreshadowing of how facebook will degrade?
    Haven’t done a hang out yet. I doubt we would use Airtime for work since we aren’t all friends on facebook (I still keep most of my work life separate) though i do now have two alias accounts. Doesn’t everyone? 😉

    •  @HowieSPM Hangouts have the same issues as Skype. It depends on your WiFi connection. You don’t have to be FB friends to use Airtime…but you’ll have the same dropping issues with it that you have with Skype.

  • Airtime: More relevant than Chatroulette and less nudity. There’s definitely potential. The context is great. Definitely no Google+ hangout competitor. Only 1-on-1 chat.

    •  @mikestenger Less nudity??! I’m out.

      • @ginidietrich @mikestenger me too, Gini… Boooo for less nudity

  • I think I may have to have a drink before I try this (similar to Chatroulette). I don’t know anyone who has used it yet…maybe I’ll have to be the first! 

    •  @annedreshfield Shoot, if you’re drinking, make sure you connect with me first. This could be fun. Just don’t play any bad music.

      •  @KenMueller  @annedreshfield I want in on this, too!

        •  @ginidietrich  @annedreshfield Will you be drinking? oh…wait…this is you…dumb question…

        •  @KenMueller  @annedreshfield I only have one glass of wine. So it’s not like you’re going to see me drunk.

        •  @ginidietrich  @annedreshfield yeah, but you don’t need wine.

        •  @KenMueller  @annedreshfield True.

        •  @ginidietrich  @KenMueller I’ll be sipping a whiskey sour. 

  • Has anyone actually tried out Airtime? I use Skype a lot for my coaching business but I wish I could find an alternative as it does drop. Has anyone found a good alternative? Would dearly love to find an alternative. Any suggestions would be appreciated since we are on this topic!

    •  @John_Murphy Unfortunately, they all drop. We had really good luck a couple of weeks ago using Google Hangouts with six of us. I think it dropped only one of us in the hour. I don’t think it’s the services, but the Internet connections that create the drops.

      •  @ginidietrich Thanks, Gini. It does seem to be the internet and how I wish that could get cracked!

  • I’d be interested in how they deal with Privacy and avoiding stalking issues, if they’re giving up your hometown and interests. “Evil” people are pretty smart when given the basic info.. and now you’re showing what someone looks like? hmm…

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  • AliasgarBabat2

    I use Skype and Google hangouts for personal and social interactions. For business meetings, I use on premise RHUB web conferencing servers. It works from behind my company’s firewall.

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