Cisco's (News - Alert) TelePresence systems are widely regarded as impressive communication systems, both conceptually—the ability to talk, face-to-face, with anyone no matter where the parties involved are physically located is regarded as something of a minor miracle in technology circles—and specifically, in that Cisco's particular systems are very well-designed. While previously some were balked by the massive price tags involved in bringing such a system to their offices, recent changes have made the impressive wonder that is a Cisco TelePresence system much, much more accessible. Specifically, Cisco's starting to bring its TelePresence systems to the cloud with the Cisco TelePresence Exchange System.
Considering that a single conference room set up for TelePresence can commonly cost as much as $300,000, it's clear that some kind of solution needed to come into play for smaller businesses, especially those that would take years to reach the kind of income required to get one. But the thing is, much of the costs involved in a TelePresence system were hardware-related, which made it a prime target for cloud conversion.
With TelePresence as a cloud system, companies can pay subscription fees to telecommunications providers for access, cutting back on their own hardware needs to operate such a program. The idea to do something like this actually goes back as far as 2006, when some of Cisco's partners realized that the idea worked well at places like Kinko's, where meeting rooms were made available for executives on the road.
With the high initial expense removed and replaced with a fixed access cost, it becomes more accessible for users who wouldn't have otherwise bought in. That opens up new markets and represents additional revenue for comparatively minimal expense, a win for the businesses that would otherwise have missed out. It's also a win for Cisco itself, who gets the resulting boost in revenue from accessing a new market for comparatively minimal expense.
However, there is room for competition in the field, as even that minimal expense can climb to fairly substantial levels for those users who want access to the wide variety of possible features that Cisco TelePresence can offer. Competition like Citrix's GoToMeeting, the confluence of Microsoft's Skype (News - Alert) and Lync systems, IBM's SameTime, and several others all want a piece of that Cisco TelePresence market pie.
The market for videoconferencing systems is going to be robust for some time to come, and a robust market—especially one in a weak economy that predicates on offering added value—is going to draw competitors. Turf in this particular market space is going to be hotly contested for some time to come.
Edited by Rachel Ramsey