Apple enthusiasts were disappointed when CEO Tim Cook failed to deliver an iPhone 5 at yesterday’s much anticipated launch event. Instead, he unveiled the iPhone 4S, a new device with greater processing power and more features that make the smartphone easier to use.
Right behind Apple’s announcement were a slew of complementary product releases, including LifeSize’s ClearSea, a mobile application certified for iOS 5 and soon for iPhone 4S that enables users to connect to enterprise video conferencing systems.
ClearSea is based on technology developed by Mirial, the Italian mobile video company LifeSize acquired in July. The goal of that acquisition was the extension of the LifeSize high-quality video conferencing platform to mobile devices. ClearSea already supports many versions of Google Android and operates on smartphones manufactured by Apple, Dell, HTC, Motorola and Samsung.
What LifeSize, a wholly owned subsidary of Logitech, is aiming for is an open, standards-based video conferencing system that essentially performs the same functions as what Cisco is attempting to accomplish – in part – with its Cius tablet. ClearSea is a hardware-software platform that integrates with any H.322 and SIP-based conferencing and telephony system. It’s differentiator is the high-quality video; current versions on iPad support 720p definition.
LifeSize believes video conferencing will eventually become as ubiquitous as desktop phones and cellphones, and that makes support for mobile devices essential. Video conferencing today is confined to the desktop and, more often, conference rooms. Adding smartphones and mobile devices, such as tablets, will free users from static installations and make video a more attractive offering.
While video conferencing is growing in market share and utilization, it remains a niche offering. Most businesses use very little video in their collaboration, and many default to free services such as Skype. Leading video conferencing and telepresence vendors have wowed the market with their products, but failed to capture wallet because of the systems’ expense.
LifeSize is seeing sales tick up, especially through its channel partners, but concedes that video conferencing has yet to reach critical mass. The company foresees greater video adoption in the coming years, making the continued developing of capabilities essential to remain competitive and attract partners and customers.
What’s interesting about LifeSize’s Mirial acquisition and out-of-the-gate support for iOS 5 is the presumption that smartphones could be the catalyst for video adoption. By putting video communications literally in the palms of users hands, LifeSize and its peers may get users more accustomed to video chats and collaboration. If that happens, it could result in accelerated sales.
LifeSize is thinking ahead of the curve. Its commitment to technology development and expanded device support makes it a must-watch company in the video conferencing segment.
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Lawrence M. Walsh is CEO and president of The 2112 Group, a technology business advisory service that specializes in optimizing indirect channels and partner relationships. He’s also the executive director of the Channel Vanguard Council. He is the former publisher of Channel Insider and editor of VARBusiness Magazine. You can reach him at [email protected].
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