Vidyo has announced a new and free multi-vendor conferencing service called "Vidyo Way" that will enable business quality video conferencing for multi-party or point-to-point meetings. Described as a "self-service, executive-friendly interface, VidyoWay connects Cisco, Polycom, Lifesize other H.323 and SIP-based room systems, Microsoft Lync clients, mobile devices and telephones." The service is similar in nature to those already out there from Vidtel and BlueJeans and could start off a bidding war in the "any to any" video space.
The absence of Skype is interesting as it is globally the most often used and minutes seeing service of video hands down, albeit with consumers. But Skype is used in business today as well, so the wide deployment of Skype and its absence may impact the desire to switch over to "VidyoWay." But more importantly it also sets up the possibility by acquisition hungry Microsoft of buying Vidtel or BlueJeans, both which are already deploying the multi-party technology that Vidyo is promising, thus bridging their Skype and Lync audiences and opening the door to the rest of the market the same way Vidyo is hoping to.
Microsoft's coffers are also much deeper than Vidyo's plus there's already the installed user base of both Skype and Lync that dwarfs all the other "platforms" in use today. Cisco, Polycom, Logitech (owners of Lifesize and Sightspeed) and Avaya also could also be acquirers of Vidtel or BlueJeans, and immediately begin to offer a similar service. Those companies could use it to maintain their sales pipeline by offering a hedging technology, even if it means eating up their bridging and exhange partners. These companies could also look to acquire Vidyo, but with over $100 million dollars already invested and Vidyo at "Series D", the price will be much steeper than for Vidtel and BlueJeans. Venture investors want big wins and will want a nice return, plus with Juniper Networks invested with Vidyo already as a strategic, Cisco's appetite to feed it's biggest competitor's bank account isn't likely, in turn further opening the door to their chasing Vidtel and BlueJeans.
The idea of totally free multi-party, multi-vendor is interesting, but it's not also without significan risk to Vidyo as the company is taking a "loss leader" approach for a service that has yet to launch, with no firm dates revealed, as a lead generation process to attract customers who hopefully will switch to their service based offering. The risk is that the "free" and "subsidized" service will actually delay the need for Vidyo service licenses to be purchased or the need for potential customers to switch over to the Vidyo platform for businesses and enterprises already deploying existing legacy video end-room and desk based hardware which have been, and remain, Vidyo's targets.
On the upside, once released "VidyoWay" may also put some hurt on the legacy bridging and exchange companies, as their customer bases are already looking at Vidtel and Bluejeans, and now will face competition with the free offer from Vidyo. This freeing up of cash gives IT manages a way to save operating costs and recover some of that money to apply elsewhere. With the reduced OpEx those managers can go out and buy iPads and Android tablets and thus put more people on the video platform. This is where Vidyo is betting VidyoWay and compatible apps win them over by driving greater utilization of their already sunk costs in video conferencing gear, and getting more people to use their technology over time.
Apps are the reason Skype is being left out. While Vidyo today has apps for some mobile devices (iOS and Android), those apps will be supplemented and complimented by "VidyoWay" specific apps as the current Vidyo apps are for customers of Vidyo or of service providers offering Vidyo conferencing. Those customers will be able to call into VidyoWay and participate in the multi-party, multivendor video conferences. Also missing from the line up of compatable companies is Avaya, which recently acquired Radvision. One other interesting point was that VidyoWay will not require anyone to be using or holding a Vidyo license, thus making it open to anyone using their to be released software on iOS and eventually Android platforms as well as the legacy gear.
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Note: I hold shares in Glowpoint and am am an option holder in Vidtel.