Logitech Preps LifeSize Video Conferencing Push

Peripheral
manufacturer Logitech has traditionally played in the
consumer and SMB spaces, but the company will be pushing further into the
enterprise space in the coming weeks and months with news related to its
18-month-old acquisition of LifeSize. Part of that news, which
Logitech and LifeSize representatives wouldn’t spill, is a new focus on
enterprise unified communications.

To
focus more on business customers, the vendor formed the Logitech for Business
division in April, and one of its key areas will be unified communications,
said Eric Kintz, vice president and general manager of the Logitech for Business
division. The new division, which will start announcing new products in the
next month, has its own R&D and marketing departments in an effort to
structure itself as the business-to-business side of Logitech’s business.

“For
Logitech’s traditional business, unified communications provides a significant
opportunity because it’s peripheral-rich with attach of webcams, phones and so
on,” Kintz said.

According
to Kintz, the reason Logitech is making a more focused push on unified
communications, in particular videoconferencing through LifeSize, is because
unified communications is becoming mainstream. The technological and societal
factors necessary to make it a mainstream suite of technologies have come
about, and so Logitech is ready to get into the game.

Michael
Helmbrecht, vice president of product marketing at LifeSize, echoed Kintz’s
comments about unified communications going mainstream.

“This
is a large and really rapidly growing market that’s exciting because it’s going
mainstream very quickly,” Helmbrecht said. “We have a unique position at
Logitech in having a full line of solutions for PC and Mac and over time more
mobile device peripherals for video calling and audio calling.”

Within
unified communications, Logitech will focus its product and program efforts
going forward to address three major trends in the market.

The
first major trend is the integrations of video platforms into a merged
experience. Kintz said the technologies are currently fragmented, with desktop
only speaking to desktop, meeting rooms only talking to meeting rooms, and
mobile platforms also being somewhat siloed. Logitech plans to release products
that will integrate desktops, meeting rooms and mobile devices into a more
seamless experience, pushing customers closer to a ubiquitous video
communications experience, he said.

The
second trend is in regards to how videoconferencing will be deployed and
purchased in the future. Traditionally, buying and rolling out
videoconferencing products has required big up-front costs, but virtualization
and cloud computing technologies are changing that requirement.

“We
see that changing and following the path of other pieces of infrastructure,”
Kintz said. “First in a virtualized environment, so we see infrastructure
following similar trends to other infrastructures in VMware-type deployments.”

With
two other recently-acquired companies, SightSpeed
and Paradial, combined with LifeSize, Logitech seems
pretty much set to deliver hosted videoconferencing technologies. Although
Kintz did not say that the plan was to release a hosted videoconferencing
service, it’s easy to speculate given SightSpeed provides hosted video
communications, Paradial offers firewall and connectivity products, and
LifeSize offers the hardware and codecs for videoconferencing. Wait and see
what the company actually announces in the next month.

Speculation
aside, the third major trend Kintz mentioned was the need to address new
customers, especially in the SMB market segment. The costs associated with
videoconferencing solutions have kept the technology mostly in the enterprise
and midmarket, whereas SMBs (and especially start-ups) have used services from
the likes of Skype. With cloud services, that will reduce costs to the point
where SMBs could afford it, opening up the market to an entirely new market
space.

“There’s
a big greenfield opportunity in SMBs. Today, the videoconferencing market has
been predominantly focused on the enterprise space and mid-market,” Kintz said.
He hinted at new endpoint and peripheral products coming from Logitech in the
coming months that will make it even easier for SMBs to buy into
videoconferencing. It will also provide opportunities to the IT reseller and
telecommunications channels.

“You’ll
see us increasingly bringing B2B-centric cameras, and if you combine that with
the LifeSize codec, you can create a new generation of endpoints that will help
address the needs of SMBs,” he said.

 

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