Video Conferencing's Big Year: Acquisitions, Standards and Affordability

By Jessica Davis  |  Print this article Print


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The HD video conferencing space has heated up in the last year as smaller companies, such as Tandberg and Lifesize, have become acquisition targets of Cisco and Logitech; vendors have sought to court midmarket and small-business customers; and everyone pushed for greater interoperability and adoption of standards. Here are some of the big trends and news events of 2009 for HD video conferencing.

Video conferencing has been considered one of the primary strategic investments for business in an age of tighter travel budgets and the demand for higher productivity.

Take one look at the merger and acquisition activity this year in the space, and you can see that companies are placing their bets. Cisco is hoping to acquire HD video conferencing player Tandberg. And yesterday Logitech announced it will acquire HD video conferencing upstart LifeSize.

It's no wonder. As LifeSize CEO Craig Mulloy pointed out during an analyst call today, the HD video conferencing business is growing fast and is expected to reach $2 billion in revenues in 2009.

Aside from acquisitions, other big trends for 2009 in the HD video conferencing market included efforts by vendors to bring their expensive solutions down to the midmarket and small-business markets. That's one of the reasons why Cisco is looking to buy Tandberg, and why LifeSize's systems, which range from a sub-$2,500 system to room systems in the $50,000 range, are turning heads and causing executives to open their wallets.

Another big push is to make these systems interoperable and easier to use. Cisco's announcement of a more collaborative platform that would be more standards-based was a nod to that effort.

All these trends played themselves out in the HD video conferencing news of the 2009. Here's a look at some of Channel Insider's coverage of the ever hotter HD video conferencing market over the last 12 months.

December 2008
Survey: IT Organizations to Spend on Video Conferencing in 2009
The experts have predicted it and now the research confirms that IT decision makers will continue to buy video conferencing technology in 2009, as companies target travel budgets when money gets tight. Video conferencing companies such as Cisco, Tandberg, Polycom and others stand to benefit.

March 2009
Polycom Media Phone Brings Videoconferencing Down to Size
Polycom’s VVX 1500 provides a programmable, multimedia and multiapplication desktop device that provides videoconferencing capabilities and more for SMB organizations.

June 2009
Tandberg Takes Video Conferencing to Small and Midmarket Business
As business travel budgets have been cut to the bone, more businesses, large and small, have been looking to video conferencing to replace some travel. Now Tandberg has released two product bundles targeted at the small and midmarket business space and at enterprises looking to equip branch offices. Tandberg's products are offered at price points previously only served by rivals such as Polycom and LifeSize.

October 2009
Cisco Partners See Big Upside in Tandberg Acquisition
Partners say Cisco's $3 billion bid to buy Tandberg will fill in major midtier gaps in Cisco's video conferencing portfolio and open up a host of upsell opportunities around unified communications.

LifeSize Passport Brings Video Conferencing to Masses

Upstart video conferencing vendor LifeSize is offering a sub-$2,500 HD system called LifeSize Passport, designed to bring the telepresence experience to the masses. LifeSize's announcement comes one day after Cisco announced plans to create a video conferencing juggernaut through its acquisition of Tandberg.

Cisco Partners Already Sell Tandberg in the Middle
The chasm between WebEx and TelePresence leaves a lot of middle ground uncovered in Cisco's video conferencing portfolio. That's where Tandberg has fit in all along.

November 2009
Cisco Intros Next-Gen Video Conferencing, Collaboration Platform

Cisco announces a handful of new technologies designed as components of its larger vision of a next-generation collaboration platform that includes HD video conferencing such as Cisco's TelePresence with Cisco's WebEx technologies and taps into technology to make Cisco's technologies interoperable with solutions from other vendors.

HD Video Conferencing Heats Up as Logitech Buys LifeSize

Logitech plans to buy HD video conferencing vendor LifeSize for $405 million in cash. The announcement follows news that HD video conferencing vendor Tandberg's shareholders were less than excited about networking giant Cisco's offer to acquire their company. Meanwhile, Polycom's CEO says the deal frenzy points to a faster move for video conferencing going mainstream.

Jessica Davis covers the channel for eWeek and Channel Insider. Her technology journalism career began well before anyone heard of the World Wide Web and has included stints at Infoworld, Electronic News/EDN, and the Philadelphia Business Journal. Her work has also appeared on CNN and Forbes.com. She has covered hardware, software and networking, as well as the business side of technology. She has won several journalism awards, including a national ASBPE award for best staff-written column, and was named Marketing Computers hardest working tech journalist on their inaugural list of top tech journalists. Jessica can be reached at jessica.davis@ziffdavisenterprise.com

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