I reported yesterday about the new Avaya tablet solution for business. Since my story hit the TMCnet website - alongside on-the-scene coverage from TMC's Rich Tehrani, who attended the product's official unveiling (I must say, I find it amazing how he is everywhere at once when it comes to being where communications news is being made) - a reader comment and a marketing-related thought of my own have come to light. So I'd like to share.
My posting "Avaya Aims to Bring Workplace Video to The Tipping Point" from yesterday starts out by mentioning a comment that Lawrence Byrd, director of unified communications architecture at Avaya, made to me about how leveraging video for work applications is far from widespread because the barriers of entry for making video work easily as needed - and where desired - are still a bit high for many organizations and employees to overcome. The article then goes on to say how Avaya has launched various products, including the 1000 series of video devices, and a tablet with Avaya's new Flare interface (although at the time that I talked to Avaya about it they didn't mention the Flare branding), aimed at end user ease of use.
Yesterday I received an e-mail from a reader who declined to provide his/her contact information. In the communications this individual says that the 1000 series devices are rebranded LifeSize equipment and that "while the tablet supports Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, it does not support cellular networks. That will come from adding a dongle (a bit of an anachronism) to one of the USB ports. Not very elegant."
The reader goes on to say that while Avaya talks about how video adoption has suffered from high costs and complexity, he questions whether "a $3,750 device and software application ($2,000 for tablet and $1,750 for Flare application) breaks the cost barrier," particularly if it's not replacing a PC.
I should mention that in my conversation last week with Byrd he said over time Avaya expects third-party devices to emerge to support the experience now delivered by the tablet, and that he added that 4G cellular networks will increase bandwidth to better support rich media applications like mobile video.
Also, while Byrd would not disclose to me the price of the Avaya tablet, he said it will cost more than a tablet and less than a typical personal video desktop product. However, Rich Tehrani's more recent reporting on the Avaya A175 tablet (with two speakers, two microphones and a video camera) notes that its street price is $1,500 to $2,000.
Just one last note on the Avaya solution - particularly, relating to the name. Given Apple's iPad - whose name was greeted with groans by some media and customers - went on to huge success, it's obvious to ask the question: What's in a name? On the other hand, I'm not sure Avaya is doing itself any favors by calling its new tablet interface Flare.
For me, anyway, the word Flare brings to mind three things:
One is a flame. And that makes me, as journalist, think about how editors (at other media outlets, of course) term some products flameouts. Let's give this new tablet and interface a chance before assigning it this connotation.
Two is a car accident. You know, how the police use road flares so other motorists are alerted that they need to drive around the obstruction?
And three is the movie Office Space. This cult classic, about a bunch of office drones, has the main character dating a waitress played by Jennifer Aniston. She works at a restaurant that's strangely similar to TGI Friday's. And the main concern of her manager seems to be the fact that she doesn't wear enough silly buttons and other decorations on her uniform - what the restaurant refers to as flare.
Not good. But then again, the images brought to mind for some with the name iPad weren't the greatest either and look what happened with that.