Video for the Masses: Now in Enterprise Edition

The visual communication industry has been asleep for a long time. Too long, or so I'd like to think. No great progress has been made.

We've been playing around with room systems, telepresence and other high-end devices, trying - as an industry - to push it as a replacement to flight tickets. Our industry has finally grown, but too slowly.

As the technologies have improved, it seems like the time has come for our industry to wake up and see what's going on in the consumer market of visual communications. Almost everyone  is using video.  It started by watching videos online, uploading them to UGC websites, such as YouTube or Flickr, and its exploded with everyone using Skype or Gtalk video calling.

But what about the B2B world? The place where visual communications started. But how many businesses can afford a 'personal' video system that starts at $5,000. Video calling is still a niche, adopted by early adopters and avid CEOs.  Well, all this is about to change. Dramatically.

We now have the capabilities necessary for HD visual communications to be on every employee's desktop - every employee of the enterprise. We are  tearing down the walls of the conferenceing rooms. That's why I believe these services are actually going to be used a lot more.

This has been a busy week for RADVISION and for the industry in general, with InfoComm 09 happening in Olrando. Stephen Lawson, from IDG, covered press releases issued by RADVISION (my company) and LifeSize this week, noting the different approaches we're taking in bringing video calling to the desktop:

LifeSize Communications and Radvision are taking two different routes toward high-definition desktop videoconferencing, both aiming to bring more participants into the virtual room.  [...]

The LifeSize Desktop application is designed for use on standard Windows XP and Vista systems, including laptops, particularly for employees who work at home or on the road. [...]

Radvision and Samsung bypassed the CPU power question altogether, while allowing users to integrate their desktop videoconferencing systems with their PCs physically. The VC240 is a 24-inch Samsung high-definition PC monitor with a built-in DSP (digital signal processor) for videoconferencing.

As a side note, I would add that RADVISION is actually offering both of the options that Stephen is discussing - offloading the video codec when working with the VC240, and using the PC CPU for the codec with our SCOPIA Desktop client.

Bottom line:

  • Visual communication is booming both in the consumer market and in the enterprise because it is making it accessible two different target audiences. For consumers, that will mean having both software based solutions, that can be installed on personal computers, AND consumer electronic appliances, that can do video calls (standalone videophones, embedded in the television, or any other technique).
  • For businesses, that will mean having both desktop solutions (in a form of LCD, a standalone videophone or a software application) AND dedicated room systems.
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