Logitech is rolling out new video conferencing equipment that officials say will fill the gap between audio conferencing offerings and high-end, expensive telepresence systems.
The company, which also owns video conferencing vendor LifeSize Communications, is unveiling the ConferenceCam CC3000e, an all-in-one offering that is designed to enable as many as 10 participants to quickly and easily set up a video conference in any small or midsize conference room.
Logitech's goal is to give organizations a tool that will let working groups conduct video meetings without having to build out expensive telepresence conference rooms, according to Sam Feng, director of product marketing at the vendor. Instead, companies can leverage the large numbers of conference rooms that currently are only wired for audio meetings with a solution that is easy to use and relatively inexpensive.
"We're not really competing against room-sized [telepresence solutions]," Feng told eWEEK. "There's a huge gap right now between audio [meetings] and telepresence."
Video conferencing is still seen by businesses as a way to increase productivity and a key tool in their larger collaboration efforts, according to IDC analysts. However, the combination of an uncertain global economy and the trend toward lower-cost and software-only solutions has conspired to slow sales of video conferencing equipment. Established players like Cisco Systems, Polycom and LifeSize still offer larger and pricier telepresence systems.
However, with greater worker mobility, the growth of mobile devices and the trend toward bring-your-own-device (BYOD), demand continues to grow for video conferencing offerings that let employees use whatever device they want from anywhere. That has driven Cisco and the others to begin offering software- and cloud-based solutions, and has given rise to a growing number of software-only startups, such as Vidyo and Blue Jeans Network.
Logitech, which is better known for its computer peripherals for consumers, is making a larger push into the enterprise space, and its BCC950 ConferenceCam was launched in 2012. The video conference solution, designed for up to five people, sits on a table and is designed for small groups, again with the idea of being able to communicate visually from any room.
The CC3000e is different, Feng said. It's more of an enterprise offering, with greater capabilities, including the ability to pull in more people. The solution comes with a camera, a speakerphone and a hub that offers remote control and connectivity options. The camera offers a 90-degree field of view, zoom capabilities and a remote-controlled 260-degree pan, which Feng said is important for offering close-ups and seeing the details on whiteboards.
The hub can connect to an Apple Mac, a PC, or tablets and smartphones, with connectivity via a USB for Macs and PCs and either Bluetooth or near-field communication (NFC) connectivity for mobile devices. It also can be used with a range of unified communications (UC) and video conferencing technologies, including Microsoft's Lync or Jabber and WebEx from Cisco. Plus, it's certified to run with Skype, is integrated with Vidyo's technology and works with LifeSize's UVC ClearSea product.
"If people already bring their PCs to conference rooms now, why not use whatever UC client they already have," Feng said.
Logitech officials see a lot of upside for the CC3000e. Pointing to numbers from market research firm Frost and Sullivan, they say there are 60 million to 70 million physical conference rooms in the world, and only about 5 percent of those are video-enabled. Their solution enables the other 95 percent to easily be used for video conferences, Feng said.
The price also will be a driver, he said. Many of the telepresence products on the market can cost $5,000 or more. The CC3000e, which will be available this month, starts at $999.99.