Google+ Hangouts HD and the rise of good enough telepresence

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.

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

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  • If they transition to no plugin

    Does that mean that it will support tablets better?
    Michael Alan Goff
    • He's full of crap. You already don't need a plugin to do H.264 today.

      Unless you're using a crappy browser or a crappy os that is.
      Johnny Vegas
  • one word why this is so and

    It isn't Google. It's Lync
  • Good for Business Hangouts™

    WebRTC (plug-in-less) is the right direction. Google has done a great job supporting it and adding to the open source technology, now it’s time to see it fully implemented in Hangouts. Business Hangouts™, an Enterprise-Friendly addition to Google+ Hangouts, released today, will enjoy the foundation technology even more, as we go:
  • Audio is still the big problem

    The big problem with Google Hangouts, Skype, etc is the audio.
    Everyone talks about how great the video quality is but when you are dealing with feedback from cheap usb web cameras, make the 'group' video conference experience less than satisfactory. In my job we have expensive Lifesize / Polycom video conference solutions that have far superior audio quality than anything currently available for web cameras etc.

    When someone decides to build a professional quality (from an audio as well as video standpoint) web camera/conference device then the hardware video conference manufacturers will have a BIG problem!

    Have not tried Hangouts - but Skype audio craps out every time you screen share. And in most business situations.. screen share and control is needed.
  • Addressing the interface

    We recognized this a while ago- while software codecs are getting better and better, the peripherals have not- that's why we designed our camera the VPTZH-01. USB with 1080 capability and PTZ. Controls through IR remote, UVC USB, and RS232. For Audio we currently recommend the Jabra Speak 510 which is bundled into our VDOPC offering.