Logitech and LifeSize
Logitech makes a lot of stuff – including mice, keyboards, and webcams. In 2009, the firm acquired LifeSize, which makes enterprise video solutions. LifeSize is treated as a subsidiary.
What’s interesting is that video conferencing is rapidly gaining traction – at the desktop. That means suddenly Logitech as a purveyor of webcams is positioned to be a video conferencing player. Or does it?
This month I have been playing with the new Logitech BCC950 conference cam. It’s an interesting concept. I call it a “webcam plus.” I’ve been using it as a personal device, but the unit is really designed for a small group.
Rather than a clip-to-the-monitor camera, it is a self-standing video accessory. The base of the unit houses the microphone and speaker. It has a shaft that holds a camera about 13” above the table surface. It has a remote that adjusts both the zoom and the 180 degree pan. The device retails around $250.
This BCC950 fills the gulf between webcam conferencing and small room systems. It comes from a new B2B division of Logitech. The acoustics are business quality with a very good speaker and microphone for a small room. It utilizes a Carl Zeiss Optics lens with 9 point auto focus and a 78 degree field of view. It is capable of HD 1080p at 30 fps thanks to its onboard H.264 encoding.
Because it is simple plug and play USB, it’s compatible with a variety of services including Cisco WebEx, Avaya, LifeSize Connections, FaceTime, Google Hangouts, Microsoft Lync, Vidyo, Skype, and more (Logitech site does not mention Polycom). No special drivers are required, however they are available – if installed the answer/release buttons on the device will work with Skype.
The idea is this could be parked in a conference room, and with a user-provided software-equipped laptop, a small video conference room is created on-the-fly.
A device like this could spur more room system sales. The more options the more pervasive video becomes. On the annoying end of the video spectrum are handheld smartphones and tablets. Desktops are a step-up for a single stationary user. A device like this fills the small group gap, or it’s actually quite nice as a desktop accessory. Then comes room systems with larger monitors, and then fancy adjectives like telepresence for even larger rooms with bigger screens. Logitech is raising the bar for webcam solutions.
As video spreads through the organization, LifeSize has been making adjustments too. This week LifeSize became officially “qualified” for interoperability with Microsoft Lync. That means a Lync user (potentially with a LifeSize BCC950) can now call LifeSize 220 room system. Last month, LifeSize released updates to its UVC platform that now supports virtualization on both Hyper-V and VMware. As a software based solution, it is extremely customizable. In fact, individual features and ports can be licensed as needed. Also last month, LifeSize announced updates to its Unity family with two new larger models. The Unity products include all the required parts for a room system in a single SKU.
The democratization of video means that systems are getting simpler and less expensive. The channel model needs to shift from high margin custom to lower margin quantity. Both Logitech and LifeSize are making changes designed to accommodate that transition.
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