Teliris Trash-Talks TelePresence

Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) can't shut up about its TelePresence videoconferencing system these days, but one startup wants you to know it's been pecking at this for six years and might still be the leader.

New York-based Teliris Ltd. is taking some pot shots at Cisco, contesting the router giant's claims of wild success for the year-old TelePresence.

At the same time, Teliris is admittedly riding the draft of Cisco's publicity juggernaut to get its own fourth-generation conferencing system noticed.

But let's start with Cisco, which made TelePresence a focal point of its C-Scape analyst conference earlier this week. (TelePresence is Cisco's product name. Its competitors tend to use the generic "telepresence" to describe this kind of advanced videoconferencing.) (See Cisco C-Scape Slides.)

The bravado culminated with Marthin DeBeer, senior vice president of emerging technologies, claiming Cisco's got a shutout streak going.

"I'm not aware of a single opportunity we've lost against any of those competitors in the last six months," he said at a C-Scape press lunch.

That would mean no losses to Teliris, nor to HP Inc. (NYSE: HPQ) with its Halo offering, nor to Polycom Inc. (Nasdaq: PLCM), which in addition to offering a product itself is selling through Nortel Networks Ltd. . (See Cisco, Nortel Tee Off in Telepresence.)

Competitors contacted by Light Reading couldn't cite a specific counter-example off the cuff, although their PR teams were still checking at press time.

Even if DeBeer's claim isn't 100 percent accurate, Cisco has had a noteworthy surge. Before Cisco arrived, Teliris laid claim to market leadership. Forrester Research Inc. pegged the startup's market share at 44 percent back in June, according to Teliris CEO Marc Trachtenberg.

Does Teliris still rule the market? Trachtenberg thinks so, adding that his company has "more paying customers than anybody else, including Cisco."

But it's hard to tell just how many systems these companies are shipping.

"The interesting thing is how the vendors don't talk about unit numbers," says Forrester analyst Henry Dewing. "Cisco is certainly picking up momentum. Are they leading market share yet? I just don't know."

There's no question Cisco has turned up the volume on TelePresence. Its analyst conference this week opened with a panel discussion conducted via TelePresence, followed by plenty of big talk about how Cisco has signed up 100 paying customers for the $300,000-a-pop TelePresence rooms. (See Cisco Tallies 100 .)

"John Chambers is definitely on the warpath about TelePresence," Dewing says.

Trachtenberg isn't impressed, of course. "TelePresence is so vital to their business that they cannot afford to show the cracks in the foundation, and that is leading them to do something they have not done before -- take the hype to a new level," he says. "Cisco should just chill out on the hyperbole."

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Pete Baldwin 12/5/2012 | 3:50:20 PM
re: Teliris Trash-Talks TelePresence 1985 - wow, that's amazing. Have you got pictures?
jcrecker 12/5/2012 | 3:50:20 PM
re: Teliris Trash-Talks TelePresence Craig,
Interesting info regarding Teliris and Cisco battles over "new technology" and telepresence.

To start, Teliris can't be first as I installed three telepresence studios at Ford Motor Company back in 1985(!) to connect Ford senior executive using ISDN lines. Teliris was founded 16 years later!
I placed large rear-projection TVs on their backs, and used "teleprompter" glass to position the video on a screen right in front of the participants. We called the setup "monster-prompter".
I should also mention that Cisco states nonense when saying that no camera placement can create a perfect eye-to-eye illusion at all possible angles. Yes, this is true when using plasma screens. However, using the method I installed at Ford behind teleprompter glass meant that the participants in a room stared right into the camera when they looked at their counterparts.
Sometimes good ideas get forgotten in time....

Jim Recker
Nekoss (www.nekoss.com)
Redwood City, CA
Pete Baldwin 12/5/2012 | 2:57:20 PM
re: Teliris Trash-Talks TelePresence We've got a poll up on the general topic of high-end videoconferencing -- please check it out:

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