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While sales of videoconferencing technology, like everything else, have been
affected by the down economy in 2008, videoconferencing still remains a strong
play for IT solution providers looking for recession-proof products and
technologies to carry themselves and their customers through tough times.

A case in point is videoconferencing vendor Tandberg, a 100 percent channel
company based in New York and Oslo,
Norway. Tandberg’s sales
took off in 2006, growing about 50 percent year over year, according to Paul
Cantwell, vice president of channels at Tandberg.

Sales have slowed in 2008, growing by only 24 percent over the last 12
monthsā€”although a 24 percent growth rate is one that most companies would covet
in this year of economic uncertainty and declines.

In its fiscal third quarter, Tandberg reported revenues of $210.3 million
compared with $192.9 million for the same period a year ago.

Click
here for a list of telepresence solutions from channel vendors such as Cisco Systems, Polycom and LifeSize Communications.

Cantwell attributes the growth rate to a greater acceptance of
videoconferencing in the enterprise over the past few years.

"One of the reasons is the cost of travel," Cantwell says. "And
there’s also the time and hassle associated with travel. Companies may have
initially installed these systems to reduce travel costs, but what they are
also finding is that once employees start using them, decisions are made
faster. They can still have face-to-face interaction over video." And they
can have an ad hoc meeting to make those decisions instead of scheduling a trip
for two weeks later.

And while high-end video teleconferencingā€”the high-definition, immersive
experience also known as telepresenceā€”makes up an important part of the market,
there are less expensive solutions available too, such as conference room
systems and desktop-enabled video teleconferencing.

These days Tandberg is seeing a greater interest from customers in getting
their video teleconferencing systems to interoperate with those of other
companies or partners.

And another area of interest for partners? Leasing, or financing the solution
for end customers that may not have access to the capital for an outright
purchase. Cantwell estimates that interest in leasing has jumped about 50
percent recently. Tandberg offers a captive finance arm to help partners put
together a deal that works for their end customers.

"We are seeing a tremendous amount of interest in leasing as an
alternative option," says Cantwell.