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Cisco Systems’ CEO John Chambers predicts that consumer versions of his company’s high-definition telepresence systems will hit the home/consumer market within a year.

"What you’re going to see is, over the next 12 to 15 months … high-definition capabilities for TelePresence into the home," Chambers told reporters last week. Chambers reported he has one of the Cisco units in his home aready.


While Chambers is bullish on the technology, rival Citrix Online is taking a more bearish position on video-based technologies when it comes to the small and midsized business market.


In an interview with Channel Insider last week, Citrix Online President Brett Caine said demand for video chat, teleconferencing and video-based Web presentation functionality has been lackluster among smaller businesses.


“We’re a long ways away before small and midsized companies adopt telepresence,” Caine said. “It’s a lot easier for an executive at a large enterprise to say no to travel and use video conferencing than a small and midsized company.”


Citrix Online’s Go-To-Meeting competes against Cisco’s Webex in the online presentation applications.


Chambers and Cisco may have high ambitions for its high-definition telepresence technology, but it has several obstacles to overcome before it reaches widespread adoption, especially in the SMB and digital home markets. The high acquisition cost–$34,000 to $300,000 per unit—is only part of the problem; analysts say low-bandwidth availability in homes and many small businesses will dampen quality. And that’s a big part of the problem, Caine says.


“What do [users] want from video? Crisp and clear pictures,” Caine says.


Citrix Online has offered video capabilities along with its Go-To-Meeting service, but has seen little demand. Caine speculates that the standard presentation of a person speaking into the video camera is part of the reason.


“Talking heads have been around for a long time, and I don’t think people want to simply watch talking heads,” Caine said.


Rather than focusing on video capabilities, Caine says Citrix Online is working on deeper integration of audio and VOIP functionality in its meeting platform. Conventional applications required the separate phone line to deliver audio portions of online presentations. With the integration of VOIP and PSTN features, users get one-click access to holistic Go-To-Meeting presentations.


“We thought about how to make the phone experience easier, but it’s really about the user experience,” he says.


Citrix Online recently released GoToAssist Express, a new version of the remote management tool that enables service providers to access desktops and servers for troubleshooting and maintenance. The new, entirely cloud-based application enables users to provision access without an agent on the host machine, making connections and management much easier, the company says. GoToAssist Express is sold as an extended subscription or solution providers can buy one-time use sessions.