Cisco is the only company that is driving video forward across so many fronts, partly because it can benefit so much from the increased need for network infrastructure that video can bring, said Wainhouse Research analyst Andrew Davis. The company's plan to make video available on all types of clients won't happen overnight, but it fits with what users want, Davis believes.
"Cisco is unique in this area in that they have a belief in video as a wide-scale medium and they're putting the money behind it to make everything happen," Davis said.
That evangelism will help to nurture the overall market for enterprise video, helping smaller rivals such as LifeSize, he said. LifeSize, which makes high-definition videoconferencing systems at lower prices than Cisco's, announced the LifeSize Bridge 2200 on Wednesday. It is the company's first release of a bridge, the device that links videoconferencing clients and controls the sessions they participate in. Previously, it worked with partners for these devices while selling its own endpoints, the video and audio systems installed in offices.
The Bridge 2200 is a 16-port unit that can host 16 clients at rates as high as 30 frames per second at 1080p or 60 frames per second at 720p. Priced at $64,999, it comes in well below the competition, said analyst Ira Weinstein, also of Wainhouse. Though it is missing some failover, encryption and other capabilities, which LifeSize can probably add later through software upgrades, the bridge is a good start for LifeSize, he said.
Vu TelePresence is aiming even lower than LifeSize with a system it says can deliver 1080p videoconferencing on a connection as slow as 500Kbps. A special low-bandwidth mode can work with as little as 200Kbps. The Vu TelePresence platform costs $1,500, not including the display, but users will also be able to buy it as a service for $49 per month, said Akash Saraf, co-founder of Vu. The company, based in India, is targeting small and medium-size companies.
The Vu product is already available in India and the company has a few customers in the United States, but it is now making the system generally available through U.S. channel partners this week, Saraf said.
With Cisco's initiatives, the growing array of offerings from other vendors and systems such as Skype, video communications will become widely used across enterprises and homes, Davis of Wainhouse said. However, that will take between three and five years, he said.