In an attempt to reach a broader audience, Cisco Systems on Monday reduced the price of its consumer-focused videoconferencing platform and added to its portfolio of telepresence solutions.
The networking giant faced heavy criticism when it launched its Umi videoconferencing solution in October of last year due to its price point. Listed at $599 plus a $24.99 monthly service fee, the solution didn’t seem to be priced at a level where it would achieve widespread adoption, especially with PC-based video-calling companies offering a similar service for free.
On Monday, the price tag of the Umi 1080 was reduced by $100 to $499. Furthermore, Cisco (News - Alert) dropped the service fee from $24.99 per month to $99 a year, resulting in an annual savings of about $200.
"We are pleased with the response to Umi so far but we do believe the new price point…will accelerate adoption further and faster,” Gina Clark, vice president and general manager of Cisco’s consumer telepresence business, told the Wall Street Journal.
In addition to the price cuts, Cisco introduced a second video-calling solution, the Umi 720, which offers a lower resolution picture and requires less bandwidth than the 1080. The newer videoconferencing platform costs only $399, but requires the same monthly service investment of $99 per year. The company expects to launch the new system during the summer.
Cisco believes that the lower bandwidth requirements of the Umi 720 will encourage a greater level of adoption, as some consumers simply don't have the ability to run the 1080, which necessitates speeds of 3.5 megabits per second. In contrast, the 720 only requires 1.5 megabits per second.
Finally, Cisco unveiled the Umi Connect, a new high-definition calling client for PCs and Macs. The software will be offered as a free download, so you don't have to own one of Cisco's telepresence solutions to run it. The product is currently in a beta trial phase and is expected to be available sometime this summer.
Beecher Tuttle is a TMCnet contributor. He has extensive experience writing and editing for print publications and online news websites. He has specialized in a variety of industries, including health care technology, politics and education. To read more of his articles, please visit his columnist page.
Edited by Janice McDuffee