Polycom gets chilly reception in enterprise videoconferencing market

Firm inks deal to provide videoconferencing platform for telemedicine at the South Pole

Polycom (Nasdaq: PLCM) received a chilly reception in the enterprise videoconferencing and telepresence market in the third quarter, posting a 15.2 percent year-over-year revenue decline, according to the latest data from IDC.

Still, Polycom held on to second place in the videoconferencing market with a 25 percent market share, with leader Cisco (Nasdaq: CSCO) also posting a substantial year-over-year revenue decline.

Overall, the enterprise videoconferencing and telepresence market posted a 4.8 percent decline in revenue in the third quarter of 2012, compared with the same quarter of 2011.

While the enterprise market might be giving Polycom the cold shoulder, South Pole researchers are welcoming the company with open arms. Polycom recently inked a deal with the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) at Galveston to supply its RealPresence videoconferencing platform to provide telemedicine to isolated South Pole researchers.

The telemedicine network powered by RealPresence provides medical care to three U.S. polar research stations--McMurdo with 1,200 researchers, Amundsen-Scott with 120 residents and Palmer with 40 residents--as well as two Antarctic research vessels.

"Our specialists help provide the second tier of care that's difficult or impossible for 'doctors on ice' to handle themselves," said Dr. Scott Parazynski, director and chief medical officer of UTMB's Center for Polar Medical Operations. "It's incredibly expensive to transport a person to or from the continent, and in the middle of winter it's physically impossible to get people off of the South Pole. So if you can remotely diagnose and treat the patient, and then supervise his or her care, you're much better off."

Bandwidth has been an ongoing problem in Antarctica. "The issue down on the ice is bandwidth, but it's greatly improved over what we had when we first started," commented Oliver Black, systems analyst services manager at UTMB. "We didn't even have enough bandwidth for color back then. What we have today with Polycom is truly excellent video quality."

Collaboration is the key to saving lives at the South Pole research stations. It is also the key to turning around the enterprise videoconferencing market, according to Petr Jirovsky, senior research analyst for IDC's enterprise communications infrastructure group.

"Video as a key component of collaboration continues to place high on the list of priorities for many organizations and we anticipate a return to positive market growth in 2013," Jirovsky concluded.

For more:
- check out IDC's stats
- see Polycom's release

Related articles:
Spotlight: Cisco takes top spot in videoconferencing infrastructure market
Vidyo challenges Polycom, Cisco with $750 desktop videoconferencing