Five years ago: Videoconferencing could be 1997's killer app

Videoconferencing is set for mainstream action in 1997, according to new market data

US-based Sage Research says almost one in five US businesses already have desktop videoconferencing capabilities while another 47 per cent plan to deploy it within two years, taking the total to two-thirds of all businesses surveyed.

According to Steve Roberts, product marketing manager at Intel for the Internet and communications group, Europe will follow the US closely.

"Certainly in Germany and the UK we expect the market to double in units by end of 1997 in the business desktop area," Roberts said. "The initial adopters are in vertical markets. It's not being widely used in general office-to-office environments but in areas where there is a wide geographical spread of contacts and where workers bill by the hour, especially accountants, lawyers and people offering financial advice.

"Oil companies are making a big splash because they're very dispersed. There's a commitment by the CEO at BP to the technology. [Videoconferencing] has stabilised, standards are in place and the market is starting to mature with companies moving from pilot programmes to real implementations."

According to Roberts, other areas could also contribute to the take-up of videoconferencing: "The Internet has encouraged consumers to use their PCs to communicate and consumer PCs are coming with modems as standard. I think you'll see a lot more with cameras and video capture capabilities through 1997, making them true videoconferencing-capable systems."

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