Guest post from Interop: Is video really ready to take off? I mean, REALLY?

John Stepp has graciously agreed to share with InsideCTI readers his insights into the latest and greatest from Interop in Las Vegas. John is a full spectrum communications consultant and an expert on free and open source communications technologies. You can learn more about him and his services at Free Tech Consultants.

The Interop 2010 trade show floor opened Tuesday to a packed crowd flooding in to pick up the latest information on all things IT.  I am not sure if everyone learned what they needed, but at least they got a t-shirt and hat from HP who had a large presence at the Las Vegas show.

My quest for the holy grail of videoconference interoperability was still met with some stiff resistance, but I was glad to hear LifeSize’s insistence that interoperability with Skype video was definitely on their near term product roadmap.   LifeSize currently is working with Skype voice, so their claims are credible.  There is no question that interoperability with Skype video will allow the videoconferencing segment to take off huge, pulling the rest of enterprise communications with it.  How else will B2C video ever take off?    For that matter, how else will B2B get traction and take off like it should?  The most important application for video is to get closer to customers and business partners.

I am sure that once the dam is broken, others will follow.  After all Skype and Avaya are in the same ownership family and it makes sense to create some synergy there.  I believe Avaya is cognizant of that, but it remains to be seen what their video future is.  The Cisco-Tandberg combo looms large as a competitive threat, especially if they lower their costs for individual users and get that human network thing going, which is probably what they will do.  Polycom’s great technology will become more and more valuable if that happens.

A new entrant into the videoconferencing space is Vu Telepresence.   They have a very low cost 720p offering that includes the HDTV and pan tilt zoom camera.  They are selling it for what some companies are selling their low end products for.  Vu Telepresence is also offering the system for 24 or 36 months with a 60 day money back guarantee.  It might not be quite as good as the market leaders, but offers a good low cost alternative for companies wanting to test the videoconferencing waters. However, like most everyone else, they do not seem interested in Skype interoperability.

The videoconferencing market needs to be truly interoperable to make video the number one communications platform.  With price points for great HD video now well within the grasp of enterprise customers, there is no excuse for not taking the plunge.  How do you get customers and business partners to communicate with your videoconferencing system?  Make it free!  Judging from the many videoconference systems gathering dust and cobwebs in offices around the country, do companies really need videoconferencing to talk to each other?  I have a low cost alternative – it’s called a phone.

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