Cisco launches SMB video-conferencing push with $99 service, new endpoints


Five years after rolling out its high-end TelePresence room-based videoconferencing system, Cisco (Nasdaq: CSCO) is taking it to the masses, reacting to pressure from startups and long-time competitors to introduce a down-market, affordable solution.

cisco telepresence mx300

Cisco TelePresence MX300 is a multi-purpose, room-based TelePresence system.

Cisco today rolled out its TelePresence for small and medium businesses, which allows customers to buy or lease select multipurpose and personal endpoints and connect those endpoints to a hosted service called Cisco TelePresence Callway, a Cisco Collaboration Cloud service that starts at $99 a month. Cisco said the hosted service reduces the complexity and costs with TelePresence that have slowed adoption by SMBs.

Callway is managed by Cisco and sold through Cisco partners. The service includes unlimited calls to any TelePresence endpoint, as well as to any standards-based video device from third parties over the Internet. Multi-party bridging capabilities for up to 12 participants are also available. Callway is commercially available in the United States.

The company also introduced Jabber Video, a standards-based, HD video-calling software application that lets Mac and PC users join a conference hosted by a TelePresence user. The free application will go into beta in 2012, Cisco said.

The application works like most other cloud extensions, giving invitees a link to click to download the client and to join a meeting.

Cisco has been a long-time coming to the table with a more affordable solution for the telepresence market--a market that it dominates, but also a market that has seen new competition begin to push it from behind. Polycom recently rolled out new products aimed down market, and startup Vidyo offers a product line that's not only inexpensive, but more easily scalable and which also offers HD.

"Now that we've reached our five-year milestone with Cisco TelePresence, it's time to talk about where our vision will take us from here," wrote Cisco's Marthin DeBeer in a blog post. "Our plan is simple: We are committed to making Cisco TelePresence accessible to everyone, everywhere."

The company also introduced a pair of endpoints, the MX3000, which is aimed at SMBs  and includes a 55-inch screen, and a 1080p, 30fps capability for true HD conferencing. The $27,600 model is set for release in January.

The other endpoint announced is aimed at the burgeoning telehealth market. The VX Clinical Assistant carries a $29,500 price tag and is targeted to launch in the first quarter of 2012 in the U.S. and Europe.

For more:
- see this release

Related articles:
Global teleconferencing equipment market sets Q2 record; Cisco share exceeds 50%
OVCC champions video-conferencing adoption, interoperability; but where are Cisco and Vidyo?
The changing face of videoconferencing: It's getting cheaper and better
Video-conferencing's new popularity driven by mobile, consumerization