Comms Business Magazine’s Maren Bennette looks at the recent announcement by Cisco that the networking giant is to enter the video conferencing market.
“One could say that paying $6.9 billion for Scientific Atlanta to get their Set Top Box video technology was serious – and it was, but in reality it was more about the battle for the living room, with the real prize being the supply of CRS 1 carrier-class routing systems to all those IP NGN’s which want to transport all those movies to a home near you.
And one shouldn’t forget that Cisco spent a much smaller sum – I can’t remember how much, but for Cisco it was loose change – to acquire Sypixx, an IP video surveillance software company, the fruits of which purchase have yet to be seen. Both were moves in the “triple play” that is video: streaming, surveillance and, last but not least, video conferencing. It is the last which is being addressed now.
Of course, for a number of years Cisco has had an OEM arrangement with Radvision for video conferencing MCU’s, and a strong partnership with Tandberg for VC end-points – indeed, the 7985 video phone is a Tandberg product made for Cisco, but they never really put their money where their mouth is (if one discounts the rather low-tech Cisco VT Advantage, a Logitech camera hung on to a PC under the control of a Cisco IP phone and CallManager software).
The development and launch of the TelePresence system, along with the home-grown MCU and management software, is Cisco’s first serious foray into the VC market under its own steam.
Having said that, a telepresence system costing $299,000 for a 12 person meeting and $79,000 for a 4 person meeting isn’t going to shift off the shelves like hot cakes, especially not when Microsoft is talking up their $3,000 Office Roundtable VC system. But the real significance is that they are doing VC at all. When gorillas like Cisco and Microsoft move into a market and start throwing their marketing millions around, something big is going to happen.”
Comms Business Magazine is set to see a demonstration of Cisco TelePresence next week and will then deliver our verdict on the new kit.