Cisco Ready to Unveil Home TelePresence Product: Reports

After more than a year of discussion, Cisco officials reportedly are about to release a home video communication device, putting it into competition with Skype and others.

Cisco Systems is expected to roll out its much-anticipated home TelePresence offering this week.

The Wall Street Journal, quoting an unnamed person who had been briefed on the plans, reported Sept. 30 that Cisco officials on Oct. 6 will unveil their home video conferencing product that essentially will connect a person's high-definition television to the Internet. The offering reportedly will include a video camera and the device to connect the TV and Internet, all of which will cost about $600 and a $30 monthly subscription price.

Cisco officials have been talking for more than a year about bringing their TelePresence technology into the home, a move that would bring it into closer competition with the likes of Skype and assorted Web cam makers. They had said they hoped to release a product before the end of the year, in time for the holiday shopping season.

Reports surfaced in May that Cisco was testing a consumer version of its TelePresence technology, with officials talking about a device that would plug into a user's television.

Cisco has been selling TelePresence systems to businesses for more than five years, with officials in March saying the company has more than 600 customers worldwide. Cisco expects its $3.4 billion acquisition of Tandberg earlier this year will help grow its TelePresence revenue to more than $1 billion annually.

Cisco officials have said they expect the use of video over the Internet to grow rapidly over the next few years, to the point where it will account for more than 90 percent of traffic over the Web.

Cisco already has taken a step into the consumer space with its acquisition last year of PureDigital, which created the Flip personal video camera.

Other vendors also are seeing the potential for video. Logitech last year bought video communications vendor LifeSize Communications, and Hewlett-Packard reportedly is growing its capabilities, including an effort to bring its technology into the home.

Polycom also is broadening its reach, and more recently, Avaya announced an aggressive push into the video communications business-including the introduction of a tablet device to rival Cisco's Android-based Cius tablet-and a UC (unified communications) partnership with Skype.

For its part, Skype-rumored to be an acquisition target of Cisco-has been looking to expand its business as well, moving up into the corporate space. For example, Skype in May started testing a feature that would allow up to five people to join a conference call.

Officials with the video conferencing vendor also have been talking with Facebook about a possible deal that would enable users of the social network site to use the Skype technology with their Facebook account information.