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Video Conferencing Is Heating Up, The Established Will Be Challenged

Image representing Scott Wharton as depicted i...Image via CrunchBase

Just as we're seeing Over the Top (OTT) in voice and data service impacting the legacy mobile operators and telcos, there's also a movement afoot thats going to challenge the legacy video conferencing providers like BT, Verizon, Glowpoint (I'm a shareholder) and the rest who have been in the business of white glove video conferncing services, operating exchanges or hosting bridging services.

Yesterday pal Larry Lisser, who is known in the telecom industry as the person to go to to revive sales, penned a post supportive of disruptive Silicon Valley startup, Vidtel (a Comunicano client) who are playing the channel game to open up the legacy room and desk based video conferncing system users of Polycom, Lifesize, Cisco/Tandberg gear to be able to go what founder and ex VP Marketing at Broadsoft Scott Wharton (who is now blogging) is doing with their "any to any'" video bridging service called MeetMe that is offered at downright disruptive prices that turns the whole market on its side. What Vidtel is doing is addressing the already turned on and tuned in video conferencing user base and making their rooms and desktop video systems easily accessible to CounterPath Bria and Bria mobile users, as well as those who are Skype or GoogleTalk centric.

In the post, that was aimed at getting channel oriented telecom resellers to understand why video is so important to them, Lisser points our reasons and rationale as to why the channel is now meaningful to the video conferencing market, a belief also echoed by client Telesphere who offers VideoConnect through their growing reseller partners to sell in to their enterprise customers. In the case of Telesphere they deliver Broadsoft/Polycom/Glowpoint powered video conferencing service that also offers point to point video calling on a range of devices and over the CounterPath powered Bria 3 for Broadworks softphone.

These are reseller channel sold solutions that show a deep understanding of the how to sell versus how to follow. CounterPath, Telesphere and Vidtel along with the established players in Cisco and Polycom, are all using the sales channel to sell through others, not only direct. This is not far different from how Logitech/Lifesize is taking the LifeSize Connections service, or what I call SightSpeed for Business on steroids, where they combined the best of both SightSpeed and Lifesize to bring a lightweight telepresence offering to market and are making it available through leading telecom vTailer (vertical etailer) VoIP Supply (also a Comunicano client) to reach into an already established customer base.

Larry's premise is further underscored by ClearOne's purchase today of Israel based VCon, thus showing the world that Polycom, long the audio turned video conferencing leader will have some new competition. ClearOne already sells through channel with companies like eBuyNow, operators of the Skype shop selling the ClearOne Chat 60, and VoIP Supply pushng both the Skype friendly consumer grade speakerphones and the more robust higher end models. Now they'll take those same channels and follow LifeSize/Logitech's lead and seek to propel sales through those vtailers like VoIPSupply and others.

All this leads to disruption. Skype started it, but they're clearly not the end game any longer. Cisco and Polycom aren't exactly sitting idle as Vidtel and Vidyo disrupt the market, nor are any executives rolling over and playing dead because of Google Hangouts. Companies like Citrix, with GoToMeeting/HD Faces are making great inroads, selling not so much through channel, but via a very strong direct marketing effort online.

What this all means is the traditional players have to change, adapt or die. It's survival of not only the fittest any longer, but also of the fast and nimble.

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