Polycom Expands Collaboration to iPad, Android Tablets

Polycom is rolling out its RealPresence Mobile technology as an app on Apple's App Store for the iPad 2 and the Google Market for Android tablets.

Polycom is bringing its high-definition video collaboration software to Apple's iPad 2 and Android-based tablets from Motorola and Samsung, part of the vendor's larger software strategy that was unveiled in late September.

The move also is a nod to the growing importance of mobility in the enterprise, particularly the bring-your-own-device (BYOD) trend, where employees increasingly are using their own mobile devices-particularly smartphones and tablets-to access their corporate networks.

Enterprises "are all looking to mobile-enable their workforce," Jim Kruger, vice president of product solution marketing for Polycom, said in an interview with eWEEK, adding that in the realm of video conferencing, tablets are an ideal mobile device. "All of these tablets have cameras and are video-enabled."

Polycom on Oct. 11 unveiled Polycom RealPresence Mobile, HD video software that initially will run on Apple's iPad 2 as well as Motorola's Xoom and Samsung's Galaxy Tab 10.1 tablets, and eventually will include other devices from other OEMs. The technology will be available via apps in the Apple App Store and Android Market.

Polycom President and CEO Andy Miller will demonstrate the technology at the CTIA 2011 show in San Diego Oct. 12.

The application runs on Polycom's RealPresence platform, which is the foundation for the vendor's conference room video conferencing technology. The platform supports up to 75,000 devices and 25,000 concurrent sessions, and can be used as an on-premises solution or accessed via the cloud. Through the app, mobile workers will be able to participate in corporate HD video conferences through their tablets with colleagues who are using everything from tablets to immersive video room systems.

Users can connect with up to 16 people at once through the app, which offers an intuitive user interface with touch capabilities; supports virtual private networks (VPNs) for secure communications through WiFi, 3G or 4G; and provides the ability to share documents.

For IT professionals, the app offers provisioning and management capabilities, system interoperability, firewall traversal and scalability, according to Polycom.

Polycom's move comes as the global workforce becomes increasingly mobile and the tablet market is expected to continue its explosive growth curve. In its announcement, Polycom noted that there are more than 1 billion teleworkers, and cited the prediction by Gartner that there will be 320 million tablets sold in 2015, and more than 900 million in circulation by the end of that year. In addition, the number of people participating in video chats by that year will grow to 140 million.

Kruger said RealPresence Mobile is "the first proof-point of [Polycom's] software strategy," which was a formal acknowledgment by the company of the trend in the video communication space that, going forward, software will be the key technology in the market, not hardware. The move is a natural progression for Polycom, he said, where "a huge portion of our R&D is focused on software."

Over the next few months, Polycom officials also see the combination of RealPresence Mobile and the RealPresence Platform giving service providers that ability to offer video services via the cloud, which they said will further expand the reach of mobile video conferencing.

Other players in the increasingly competitive video communications space also are extending their reach to mobile devices. Rival Cisco Systems has several mobile video collaboration solutions, and most recently officials said they were making their Show and Share solution for managing videos available to iPad and iPhone users through a free app.

In addition, over the past week, ShoreTel, Vidyo and Radvision have announced plans to enable their video collaboration and unified communications software to run on Apple and Android-based devices.