Logitech's LifeSize division is embracing the cloud in a bid to extend videoconferencing's reach, announcing new services and the acquisition of a small mobile video company called Mirial.
Mirial, based in Milan, provides videoconferencing clients for PCs, Macs, and a wide range of mobile devices, including iPads, iPhones, and Android tablets. Logitech did not disclose the price it paid for the privately held company. It plans to integrate Mirial's clients into LifeSize Connections, a newly announced cloud-based service that lets organizations set up high-quality videoconferencing without investing in their own back-end infrastructure.
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Also on Wednesday, Logitech was set to introduce LifeSize Passport Connect, a high-definition endpoint system designed to be used with the cloud-based service. Passport Connect is built around a Logitech webcam and is priced at $1,499, well below other LifeSize end systems.
These latest moves fulfill goals that LifeSize CEO Craig Malloy laid out earlier this year, to bring two-way videoconferencing to mobile devices and introduce Android clients. The company had announced one-way video streaming to Apple iOS devices in February. A tie-in between the LifeSize Passport video system and Skype, announced in April, presents another method of bringing mobile users into meetings. However, Microsoft's announcement later that it plans to acquire Skype has raised questions about that arrangement.
New, high-powered mobile devices, which put sharp screens and fast processing in the hands of employees nearly everywhere, represent the biggest growth opportunity for videoconferencing, according to Malloy and others in the industry. Analysts expect the market for room-sized meeting systems to grow slowly over the next few years because of high costs and space requirements. Mobile devices are quickly proliferating and offer a way for more workers on the road to participate in video meetings.
Cloud-based services are also a growing trend in videoconferencing. Smaller businesses are demanding these services now so they can save the cost of infrastructure, but large enterprises will also embrace the cloud, according to Frost & Sullivan analyst Roopam Jain.
On Tuesday, 8x8 introduced the 8x8 Virtual Room service for small and medium-sized enterprises, powered by the Polycom UC Intelligent Core software platform. Users will be able to join Virtual Room meetings via a Web browser or on Polycom HDX video systems or VVX business phones videoconferencing endpoints. 8x8 Virtual Room starts at $199 per month, with limited-time introductory pricing of $99 per month for the first year. Broadsoft also announced it will use Polycom's platform to build cloud-based UC services for service providers to resell.
Mirial offers free mobile clients in the Apple and Android application stores. It makes money by selling client software for PCs and Macs and a complete client/server architecture that enterprises can set up in their own facilities. Its client software works with other platforms that are based on industry standards, including ones from Polycom, Cisco Systems and LifeSize, said Michael Helmbrecht, vice president of product marketing at LifeSize.