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LifeSize Reaches for Clouds, Mobile Devices

Carol Wilson

LifeSize, the videoconferencing division of Logitech Ltd. , today entered two new markets for videoconferencing: Cloud-based services and mobile video.

Originally known for pushing HD videoconferencing prices down and linking desktops rather than conferencing rooms, LifeSize is now using Logitech's acquisition of Mirial, a company that built videoconferencing technology for a broad range of mobile devices including: iPhones; iPads; HTC EVO, Desire, Incredible, myTouch 4G, Sensation and ThunderBolt; Motorola Atrix and Xoom; Samsung Epic 4G, Galaxy S and Galaxy Tab as well as Google Nexus S and Dell Streak. (See Logitech Buys Mobile Video Company.)

LifeSize is also launching its cloud-based videoconferencing system, LifeSize Passport Connect, which offers encrypted HD video calling to LifeSize room videoconferencing systems and software-based videoconferencing clients on PCs or Macs. The service supports a nine-way conference bridge, accessible by subscribers and guests using click-to-call downloadable software, and priced on a pay-for-use basis. (See LifeSize Launches Cloud-Based Videoconferencing.)

"Companies who haven't adopted video, the reason often is that there are too many limitations as to where you have to be to do a video call," says Michael Helmbrecht, VP of product marketing.

Gartner analyst Scott Morrison expects an increase in videoconferencing of "two to three orders magnitude" which will then produce more demand for lower-cost connections to those endpoints that can be set up and taken down on the fly. The on-demand cloud approach would meet such fluctuations in demand and peak usage.

The challenge for LifeSize now may be to compete with the "good enough" video services that are even cheaper, Morrison says, such as Skype video. Businesses that get used to having on-demand video communications may decide to go with the total ubiquity and very low cost of that kind of service.

LifeSize also is announcing a new videoconferencing system, the LifeSize Passport Connect HD video system, designed specifically for use with a cloud video model, that includes an HD video camera and is priced at US$1,500 for the unit or $999 with a one-year subscription to the LifeSize Connections cloud service. Why this matters
Video equipment vendors have been pushing to make videoconferencing ubiquitous for years, but cost, complexity and interoperability have been stumbling blocks. LifeSize is taking a different approach from the Ciscos and Polycoms, and is selling its service through third parties, including telecom service providers. A service provider who wants to get quickly into offering videoconferencing to enterprises and SMBs can resell the LifeSize cloud offering and gear with less of an investment in manpower and expertise.

Analyst Morrison cautions, however, that margins may be squeezed and earning profit for both LifeSize and a reseller could be difficult.

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— Carol Wilson, Chief Editor, Events, Light Reading

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