Cisco introduces budget conferencing option

Cisco has launched a 'public rooms' offering for people who want to use high-end videoconferencing, but who can't afford a full-scale Cisco TelePresence system.

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Cisco did achieve a breakthrough in late 2006 with its introduction of TelePresence, which transformed the perception of videoconferencing, according to Nora Freedman, an analyst at IDC. LifeSize has been selling products for three years, and others have been in the market even longer.

"I don't think that LifeSize would have been able to capitalise on the market without being able to piggyback on the marketing Cisco has done," she said.

IDC has projected total telepresence revenue from all vendors to grow from $72 million in 2007 to $1 billion in 2011. There is a market for both Cisco's type of systems and LifeSize's more flexible gear, though the current tough times may cause a "hiccup" in that growth, Freedman said.

The advent of less-expensive options such as the improved LifeSize products and Cisco's public suites gives potential users some ways to ease in to the technology, something that will be especially welcome now, she said.

Based on original reporting by Stephen Lawson, IDG news service.

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