Google+ Hangouts HD and the rise of good enough telepresence

Summary:It's no coincidence that global enterprise video conferencing sales are tanking as Google and others step up their game.

Google+ Hangouts is going high definition as it boosts the video quality of its chats. And it's no coincidence that the news drops on the same day that IDC documents the whoop ass on the video conferencing market.

GigaOm reports that Google has upgraded Hangouts to 720p HD. The aim is to transition Hangouts from the H.264 to the VP8 video codec. The upshot is that there won't be plug-ins. Google exec Vic Gundotra confirmed the swap.

You combine Hangouts in HD with Skype and various other video conferencing tools and you quickly get to a good enough telepresence world. For those of you who haven't tried Hangouts it's a pretty handy collaboration tool in a bring your own application way.

Good enough video conferencing is a trend that has been developing for multiple quarters, but the fallout is really starting to be felt now in enterprise systems.



IDC reported that the global videoconferencing equipment revenue fell 10.7 percent in the second quarter from a year ago. Total revenue for the market was just a bit above $532 million, a sum that reflects the second consecutive quarterly drop.

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Immersive telepresence sales have cratered 32 percent from a year ago. Video infrastructure equipment sales were down 20.4 percent in the second quarter from a year ago. Desktop video systems showed 7.7 percent revenue growth.

Simply put, you don't need those bandwidth hogging telepresence systems where cheap and easy and dispersed will do.

IDC's official line on video conferencing sales was that a weak economy and cautious IT spending caused the fall. However, IDC analyst Rich Costello also added that "we are definitely starting to see the impact of lower-cost video systems and more software-based products and offerings on the enterprise video equipment market."

I'll take door No. 2 as the reason video conferencing sales are taking in corporations.

Cisco has 41 percent of the global enterprise video market and Polycom has 29.2 percent. Huawei has 7.6 percent share of the global market.

As the good enough video conferencing trend really accelerates you have to wonder whether these aforementioned video conferencing players are really fighting for scraps in a doomed market.

Topics: Collaboration, Enterprise Software, Networking


Larry Dignan is Editor in Chief of ZDNet and SmartPlanet as well as Editorial Director of ZDNet's sister site TechRepublic. He was most recently Executive Editor of News and Blogs at ZDNet. Prior to that he was executive news editor at eWeek and news editor at Baseline. He also served as the East Coast news editor and finance editor at CN... Full Bio

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