The Hardware They Fall

Jan 30, 2013 9:01 am   |   Leave a Comment

Okay, so the headline is a riff on the classic Jimmy Cliff song, “The Harder They Fall,” but we think it is an appropriate headline for hardware-based videoconferencing solutions, which is the subject of this blog post.

As you may of seen recently, many of the traditional hardware-based videoconferencing providers are experiencing significant problems. Some examples: Polycom announced a 96 percent decline in Q4 revenues directly attributed to a drop in their hardware-based videoconferencing sales. Logitech took a one-time $221 million charge against its LifeSize subsidiary, in effect writing off half the cost of the acquisition, conducted in 2009. That’s a lot of value to shed in just four years.

Yet videoconferencing is more popular than ever. It’s not that businesses have stopped buying videoconferencing. It’s that the market has recognized that hardware solutions don’t offer them what they need and what they want: cost-effective, easily scalable, easily upgradeable videoconferencing that can adjust on the fly to the demands of mobile, the cloud and BYOD.

So the hardware vendors are desperately trying to transform into software companies – to meet market demand, which has quickly shifted to an all-software approach – like Avistar’s C3™ videoconferencing platform. But the hardware manufacturers can’t move fast enough, and are finding it difficult to shed their hardware heritage, their hardware business model and hardware delivery model.

For example, Polycom has released a software-based MCU. Except that MCU is delivered on a piece of hardware. You can’t actually download Polycom’s software MCU, which means it’s not a true software deployment, and is subject to similar issues of other videoconferencing solutions delivered via hardware.

Another example: RADvision, recently acquired by Avaya, just launched a new MCU, and is positioning it as a software-based platform. However, just as is the case with Polycom, a customer can get the RADVision MCU only by purchasing it along with RADvision hardware.

By contrast, a few vendors in the industry, including Avistar, had the foresight and courage a few years ago to make the switch and truly have a software based videoconferencing platform that is standards based, interoperable and can be fully virtualized at the client site, or within the cloud.

Forgive us, but we’ve spent years talking about the need to take an all-software approach to videoconferencing infrastructure, so we feel a terrific sense of vindication when our approach gets validated by the market, by analysts and by an increase in our revenues – up 35 percent over the past 12 months. (Keep in mind: that 35 percent growth contrasts with Polycom’s 95 percent loss.) Here’s what trade magazine Telepresence Options said in an Oct. 2012 article: “The shift away from hardware infrastructure is undeniable and unstoppable.”

We’re proud to be ahead of the curve. We think that developing an all-software MCU that actually can be downloaded (and not delivered on a server) is the future of videoconferencing. We feel we have an advantage in that we have significant experience with paying customers using our field-tested, scalable, virtual and interoperable videoconferencing platform.

Next up: our next blog post will look at the implications of the user experience and how the browser, the mobile device and BYOD is changing the videoconferencing experience and industry.

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About Avistar Communications

Avistar is an innovation leader in the unified visual communications industry, with more than 15 years of experience providing proven business-class desktop videoconferencing technology. Avistar's solutions are used across a broad spectrum of industries with deployments ranging in size from 30-35,000 users. Avistar's technology also helps to power solutions from Citrix, IBM, LifeSize, Logitech and many other leading unified communications vendors, while delivering end-user videoconferencing solutions to some of the world's largest corporations, in more than 40 countries. For more information, please visit www.avistar.com.

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