RealTime IT News

LifeSize Teams With Skype for Videoconferencing

LifeSize Communications said its latest release will help move videoconferencing out of conference room to wherever people want to have meetings.

The company said its new LifeSize Passport, due out later this year, is one third the size, weight (less than one pound) and price ($2,500) of any competing "telepresence" product in its class. Total weight is 2.6 pounds with cables and power supply.

Telepresence, a term promoted by Cisco for its high-end videoconferencing systems that can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, is meant to convey the idea of talking to a lifelike presence -- as if the person on the screen is in the room with you.

LifeSize also announced it's teamed with Skype to include the popular VoIP service with Passport. Initially Passport will include Skype-enabled, HD-quality audio calls, but Skype video services appear to be on deck.

"In the future, we're going to integrate other Skype applications more broadly and that timeframe is not too long," LifeSize's senior vice president of marketing, Colin Buechler, told InternetNews.com.

LifeSize said Passport users will have access to the millions of registered Skype users as well as other LifeSize and standards-compliant enterprise video systems.

"The integration of Skype audio calling into LifeSize Passport allows Passport customers to make free calls to Skypes global community of 480 million registered users and inexpensive calls to cell phones or landlines, affording small and mid-size businesses significant savings on their calling and conferencing costs," Stefan Oberg, vice president and general manager of Skype for Business, said in a statement.

What about those other guys?

The news comes on the heels of Cisco (NASDAQ: CSCO) big videoconferencing announcement Thursday, namely its proposed $3 billion purchase of video communications firm Tandberg.

Buechler said the Tandberg deal is "a clear validation that the market for videoconferencing will expand. It brings a lot of excitement to the market, which is great for us. It creates a lot of opportunity."

While LifeSize expects to continue to compete against Tandberg, Buechler claims it's more complementary and underneath what Cisco is doing at the high end with its telepresence systems.

"It's a very good product, but really different than what we do," he said. "Both Cisco and Tandberg are a lot more structured and room-based."

Cisco CEO John Chambers said the size of the market opportunity that the combined Cisco-Tandberg group will be tackling is currently pegged at $34 billion.

The opportunity for growth may be evident from a recent survey by < a href="http://www.gipscorp.com/">Global IP Solutions of industry professionals during a recent Webinar on real-time video communications. The company said of the nearly 70 who responded, 38 percent said they use videoconferencing/chat at least once a week, while 41 percent said they never or hardly ever use video.