Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) has ended its patent dispute with MPEG LA, a manager of patent pools, over Google's open VP8 video codec by signing a licensing deal that clears the way for wider adoption of the VP8 codec and the WebM video format.
The agreement grants Google a license to video comprehension techniques essential to VP8 and earlier VPx video compression technologies under patents held by 11 patent holders. Google is also able to sublicense the technologies to any user of VP8, whether the implementation is by Google or another firm, and to sublicense the same technology in one next-generation version of the VPx video codec.
As a result of the agreement, MPEG LA is dropping its effort to form a patent pool among the 11 patent holders to challenge Google.
"This is a significant milestone in Google's efforts to establish VP8 as a widely deployed web video format," said Allen Lo, Google's deputy general counsel for patents.
The deal could have far-reaching implications for a range of applications, including premium video services, videoconferencing and Web real-time communication (WebRTC), according to a report by GigaOM.
Back in May 2010, Google announced that it was open-sourcing its VP8 video codec, acquired from On2, as part of its WebM Project set up to develop an open video format for the Web. Google was then attacked by patent holders for violating video compression patents that are part of the competing H.264 video codec, according to the report.
MPEG LA threatened to bring H.264 patent holders together to form a patent pool against VP8. The patent dispute discouraged Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT), for one, from supporting the WebM Project, according to the GigaOM report.
The H.264 video codec is backed by Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL) and others, according to Apple Insider. The publication characterized the agreement as a concession by Google that it infringed the H.264 patents.
The settlement should help industry efforts to develop a common standard for real-time video communications, like video chat, as well as ease concerns of Microsoft and others about incorporating the open technology into their products.
U.K. mobile phone and broadband provider O2, part of Spain's Telefonica, has unveiled a new TU GO VoIP app that enables users to make and receive phone calls, text and voice mail using a PC, smartphone or tablet, according to a report by Computer Business Review. With the new app, O2 is taking on Skype in the European market. While limited to "pay monthly" customers, the app is being offered on Apple and Android devices as well as PCs running the Windows 7 operating system. Read more
03/01/2013 - CES 2013: It's not what you think it is
But CES, because of its size, encompasses many technologies and services outside the traditional consumer electronics market. And BYOD is bringing many consumer technologies into the enterprise.
That is why I'm traveling to Las Vegas next week to cover the show. Certainly, there will be a fair share of cool consumer gadgets. But as the business world increasingly goes BYOD, consumer devices are becoming enterprise devices, whether IT managers want them or not.
New mobile apps will no doubt abound at the show, even though Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) and Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL) won't be attending this year. Certainly, apps for the Windows Phone 8 and Surface tablet, as well as the iPhone and iPad, will be plentiful at the show.
Broadband as well as connected vehicles will have their own track at CES, evidence of the blurring line between consumer and enterprise communications. Other topics of interest to enterprises include near-field communications (NFC), wireless power products, mobile chip developments, data storage, social media, and IP-based TV.
As our sister publication FierceOnlineVideo reported recently, Interconnect Media Network (IMN) will be previewing its IP-based TV subscription service at CES. "We give you the same experience whether you're on your 65-inch home theater SurroundSound system or you're on your 5-inch phone. You're going to have the same content, the same quality, an HD system, the same bells and whistles and the same channels. We are completely universal across all devices and all software," said Steven Turner, IMN's chief executive officer, in an interview.
CES is also hosting a business insights track. "The retail and enterprise spaces are undergoing major, continuous paradigm shifts around device integration, brick and mortar vs. online retail and appropriate boundaries for using consumer data. These informative, thought-provoking sessions reveal the inside track on the trends and practices that can help you win the future," CES explained on its website.
So there will be plenty of enterprise communications insight to be culled from CES this year. Stay tuned for daily coverage.--Fred
The market for dynamic random-access memory (DRAM) chips used in PCs and other electronic devices will not recover until the second half of 2013, predicts the latest Gartner forecast.
However, the DRAM market is expected to rebound in 2014, posting 15.3 percent growth. This should spur an overall recovery in the semiconductor market, which is expected to reach $342 billion in revenue in 2014, a 9.9 percent increase from the $311 billion in 2013, the firm predicted.
Gartner analysts lowered their 2013 projection for semiconductor revenue from a previous $330 billion due to "economic headwinds and an inventory correction." In addition, the firm lowered its revenue projections for 2012 to $298 billion from $309 billion.
"The looming fiscal cliff, ongoing European debt crisis, slower emerging market growth and regional tensions have all played a part in reduced growth projections for semiconductor revenue in both 2012 and 2013. Inventory levels were already high at the start of the second half of 2012, and as PC demand rolled off, supply simply overshot demand," said Peter Middleton, principal analyst at Gartner.
The market research firm estimated overall PC production would decline 2.5 percent this year and remain weak in 2013. Gartner attributed the PC slowdown to the economic environment, which is forcing enterprises and other users to postpone PC purchases. At the same time, production of ultramobile PCs will grow strongly, starting from a small base.
The research firm predicted strong growth in NAND and application-specific integrated circuits (ASICs), which are expected to see revenue increases of 17.2 percent and 9.4 percent respectively. ASIC revenues are expected to be fueled by a new generation of video game consoles being introduced in late 2012 and 2013.
Tablet production is expected to benefit from the PC slowdown as users purchase new tablets instead of new PCs. Production is expected to increase 38.5 percent to 207.1 million units in 2013, up from a previous forecast of 169.8 million units. Gartner said the success of the Amazon (Nasdaq: AMZN) Kindle Fire, Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) Nexus 7 and Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL) iPad Mini demonstrates the opportunity for smaller tablets, and the no-brand tablet market will be stronger than previously anticipated.
- see the Gartner stats (Gartner's press release site is currently not functioning; they are working to fix the problem)
06/12/2012 - Beware of Mac attacks
Enterprises are increasing buying and deploying Macs as their corporate computer systems, either as an adjunct to their Windows-based PCs or as a replacement, according to Forrester Research (see related story in this newsletter).
Some are considering converting their systems to Apple OS to simplify the administration and security issues of deploying Macs, as well as accommodating employee-owned Apple devices, such as iPhones and iPads, on their network.
Many IT managers are under the impression that Macs are more secure than PCs, an impression that Apple has been happy to foster. While this may have been true in the past, that reputation for security has been undermined by some recent malware attacks targeting Macs, the most famous, or infamous, being the Flashback malware that infected around 600,000 Macs earlier this year.
In July, the data-stealing Crisis malware that had been infecting Macs was uncovered. The Crisis malware installs itself silently without requiring a password, drops a Java archive file on the compromised Mac, and creates a backdoor to corporate networks.
Also this summer, the DNSChanger malware, which infected 277,000 PCs and Macs, made headlines when the FBI warned it was shutting down a server it had seized in its takedown of the malware syndicate. As a result, infected computers, some of which were owned by Fortune 500 companies, were not able to access the Internet unless the computers had been cleaned of the malware, as reported by FierceEnterpriseCommunications' sister publication, FierceOnlineVideo.
In addition, a number of recent high profile attacks in which confidential corporate data was stolen were accomplished through social engineering, that is, tricking the recipient of an email to click on a malicious link. An employee with a Mac would be just as likely to be tricked as the user of a PC (unless you consider Mac users to be naturally immune to trickery).
In addition, Mac laptops are just as easily lost or stolen as Windows-based laptops. Without encryption, those laptops are ripe for corporate data loss.
It is time for IT managers--and consumers, for that matter--to treat Macs as they would PCs in terms of security. They should take the same precautions, such as installing anti-virus software and encryption, with Macs as they would PCs. -Fred
With the increasing use of Apple's (Nasdaq: AAPL) Macs in the enterprise, attackers are focusing more of their effort on exploiting OS X operating system vulnerabilities, warned security firm Sophos in its Security Threat Report 2013.
Almost half of enterprises with 1,000 or more employees are issuing Macs to at least some of their employees, and they expect a 52 percent increase in the number of Macs they issue this year, according to an estimate by Forrester Research.
That popularity has led to increased malware attacks. Sophos said in a typical week its SophosLabs detects 4,900 pieces of OS X malware on Macs, malware that can result in compromised machines, infections of corporate networks and data loss.
Apple has long maintained that its operating systems and devices are the most secure in the business, even dismissing the idea that they need anti-virus software. But Apple's claim to superior security has come into question recently as more and more malware has succeeded in infiltrating Macs.
Two examples of the increasing exploitation of Macs are the Mac Defender and Flashback malware. Mac Defender was fake antivirus software that first began infecting Macs in 2011. It used search results pages to attracted users to legitimate sites that had been infected by the malware, which then infected the users' computers, Sophos explained.
The Flashback malware exploited an unpatched Java vulnerability to infect 600,000 Macs early this year. Once infected, the Macs were linked to a huge bot controlled by a Russian-based hacker gang. It was the largest malware infection of Macs ever recorded.
To counter the growing malware threats to Macs, Sophos recommends enterprises adopt a comprehensive security approach that includes user education, layered protection, Mac-specific expertise on the part of IT staff and strong IT processes and policies.
In addition, for enterprises dealing with BYOD, Sophos is warning that Google's (Nasdaq: GOOG) Android devices are coming under increasing malware attack.
"In the mobile space, the big security story of the year is Android and the huge increase in malware we have seen attacking Android platforms," said SophosLabs Manager Richard Wang.
This poses increased risks for IT managers as more and more Android devices are being brought into the enterprise environment.
Malware developers are using a software technique known as the "GingerBreak exploit" to gain root access, install malicious code and communicate with a remote website to download and install additional malware on breached Android devices, explained the report. This enables the malware to avoid detection and removal, while recruiting the device into a global botnet.
The report warned that the enterprise security risks posted by Android are growing. "Android malware can place a company's future at risk by exposing strategic information or stealing passwords," the report cautioned.
Orlando, Fla.-- Fueled by the BYOD trend and the shift to operating system (OS)-neutral applications, more Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL) Macs are appearing in the enterprise, observed Gartner Vice President and Research Director Michael Silver.
"Apple is gaining some momentum in organizations, but more for user-owned devices than devices owned by enterprises. As applications continue to move from Windows-based to OS-neutral, Apple's share will potentially increase, as long as consumerization power remains in the hands of users," Silver told an audience at the Gartner Symposium ITxpo.
Silver noted that enterprise use of Macs could improve employee satisfaction, attract the best people who want to use Macs and improve reliability and security.
"We have spoken with organizations that say Macs have similar or lower costs than Windows PCs and organizations that say Macs cost them more, both in hardware and labor," he related.
"Some organizations are considering user-supported Macs and claim their costs are plummeting, but most have not quantified the user productivity aspects," Silver said. "Do Macs [and self-support] improve user productivity because they are more intuitive, or do they cost more because users are spending time supporting themselves and others instead of doing their real jobs?"
Silver related that enterprises in some areas of the country are having trouble attracting and retaining employees who want to use Macs at work. Some employees have mentioned the lack of device choice as a reason they left their employer.
The cost of replacing an employee has been estimated to be up to 150 percent of their salary. "An organization that can quantify and use this to justify buying and supporting Apple devices can easily justify their purchase," Silver said.
For most enterprises, however, the costs of replacing their Windows-based PCs with Macs as the corporate-owned device would far outweigh the benefits. Even companies that permit employees to bring their personal Macs into the workplace are likely to face increased support costs.
So it looks like Windows-based PCs will continue to dominate the enterprise space for the near future, although BYOD may continue to erode Microsoft's (Nasdaq: MSFT) enterprise dominance.
21/08/2012 - Imo Pairs VoIP Capabilities With Its IM App
09/08/2012 - The voice of enterprise efficiency
Speech-recognition software developer Nuance (Nasdaq: NUAN)--the company behind the Siri personal assistant who lives inside the iPhone from Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL) and helps famous people like Martin Scorcese navigate Manhattan traffic--is taking its talents to the enterprise communication sector.
Nuance's new offering, released this week, is named Nina, and is designed to leverage Nuance's speech recognition, text-to-speech and voice biometrics technology to help address companies' customer service concerns.
It will be interesting to see how enterprises embrace the capability for their customer service purposes, given their historical reluctance to wholly embrace mobility within their own IT environments (think of the headaches of BYOD). But the fact that the Nina app is designed to be embedded in customer-facing solutions certainly boosts its chances--particularly if it gives enterprises the ability to cut down on traditionally costly customer service labor.
Speaking on Nuance's earning's call earlier this week, Nuance CEO Paul Ricci was confident about the enterprise reception of Nina:
"The interest in our on-demand solutions over the last few months in enterprise, and in particular the interest for our biometrics solutions and for the enterprise virtual assistant, have been extremely strong," Ricci said, according to ZDnet's coverage. "Internally we view the reception among beta customers to our Nina solution as really quite exceptional."
The other remaining variable is how end customers will react to a voice recognition app--a question that is tied directly to how well the app works. (I haven't used Siri, so I can't offer an opinion on its performance. But Scorsese seems to like it, and I like his films, so that's a good sign.) People traditionally do not have much patience for voice recognition when it comes to customer service, so you have to wonder if the next sign of customer frustration will be people yelling "zero" rather than frantically pressing it as they try to get to human assistance.
Nuance, however, is confident that the enterprise world is ready for Nina: "For the financial services industry in particular, you might imagine customers using the system to find out the status of their accounts--their balances, flows that they are expecting to monitor, transactions that they want to perform, insurance payments they want to make, and so forth--all using a mobile device that is very voice-centric but has other modalities of interaction to help complement that," Ricci said.
Customer service is just a start. It's fairly easy to extrapolate how enterprises in different sectors might re-imagine how Nina could be used for their own custom purposes—both in customer-facing scenarios and even in equipping their own mobile workforces with new capabilities, perhaps. And if it works for them, perhaps that success will help boost the confidence of enterprise IT pros in mobile solutions and open the door to other ways mobility can help make their overall communications environments more efficient. --Jason Meyers
09/08/2012 - Was Woz talking about more than security?
The comments Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak made last weekend on his hesitation about the cloud stirred up quite a maelstrom, with every tech media outlet and pundit releasing treatises that either support his statements or try to prove them wrong. For those concerned about IT security (and for those that sell solutions to address it), the spotlight on security is probably a good thing. But a piece in Forbes this week raises other interesting points about the cloud for enterprises, noting that businesses should pay close attention to who owns content that is stored in the cloud, and to privacy issues related to how that content could be used. One has to wonder if Wozniak was just making an off-the-cuff comment or intended to stir up such controversy. For more, read the Forbes piece.
06/08/2012 - Apple co-founder condemns the cloud
The outspoken Steve Wozniak is not doing any favors for supporters of the cloud, going so far as to publicly label it "horrendous."
The Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) co-founder spoke his concerns Sunday to monologist Mike Daisey after a performance of Daisey's one-man show, "The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs," according to a report by Agence France-Presse.
Wozniak expressed serious concerns about how content is stored in the cloud and predicted catastrophe in the coming years as cloud-based computing takes hold.
"I really worry about everything going to the cloud," AFP reported Wozniak as saying. "I think it's going to be horrendous. I think there are going to be a lot of horrible problems in the next five years."
According to AFP's report, Wozniak's worries are based on businesses and consumers not owning anything as more and more content gets transferred to and stored on the cloud. "The more we transfer everything onto the web, onto the cloud, the less we're going to have control over it," he said.
In its coverage of the comments, CNET added that the aim of the cloud is just that--relieving people of their need to own everything but giving them access to it and making them feel in control.
"We all want to believe we're in control," the CNET story stated. "But we are but mere pawns on the imaginative chessboard of those in the nerd herd who take their pleasure in gaining access to your digital life."
Commentary: Is it the cloud's fault?
02/07/2012 - Apple shelves cloud-based MobileMe storage service
Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL) has retired its paid, cloud-based MobileMe storage service in favor of the iCloud platform it released in an attempt to unify its products with online storage.
The services that will be shuttered and have not made its way onto iCloud are Gallery, iDisk, and iWeb Publish, a Web publishing and hosting service.
The ability to sync Dashboard Widgets, Dock Items, Keychains, Mail Account, Mail Rules/Signatures/Smart Mailboxes, and System Preferences will also be discontinued. Accessing the remaining services--MobileMe address book, e-mail, calendar, bookmarking and storage--requires users to upgrade to iCloud.
Data from these aforementioned services will automatically be transferred to Apple's iCloud upon upgrading from MobileMe.
The computing company hasn't completely cut off MobileMe users that have yet to make the switch to iCloud, but Mac-based users that haven't upgraded to OS X Lion won't be able to make the cutover.
The MobileMe service never really caught on, particularly for enterprise Mac users, and Apple has been taking steps to eliminate the platform and rebrand its storage offering since the 2011 introduction of iCloud.
- see this Mashable post
Amazon Web Services knocked offline; Observers say cloud outage raises questions
Amazon expands Cloud Player app to Apple's iPhone, iPod touch
Microsoft builds mobile enterprise case with Surface, Windows Phone 8
Microsoft has had a big week, announcing its entry into the tablet PC race, while also providing a preview of its Windows Phone 8 operating system at its Windows Phone Summit in San Francisco.
Even before it was announced, the software giant's new Surface tablet PC was being seen as product that could receive a lot of attention in the enterprise market. Enterprise IT departments have been looking to apply their vast Windows experience to tablet PCs as tablets have increasingly appeared in the enterprise. Though Apple's iPad has been showing up more frequently under the corporate roof, there is not so much enterprise IT types could do with it, between their own relative inexperience with Apple and Apple's own closed-off attitude to having anyone else tinker with its universe.
Microsoft directly targeted these issues with the announcement of a Surface Pro tablet aimed at the enterprise. Now that the Surface has surfaced, however, enterprise market observers are not as universally excited as the previous expectations seemed to indicate. While its effort has been fairly widely praised, some believe Microsoft's Surface needs to find iPad-like consumer adoption before it begins to gain ground in the enterprise. Also, with the absence of mobile data connectivity in the first-generation Surface tablets, Microsoft will not get much help from carriers pushing the product into their own enterprise accounts.
While the iPad has found success in the enterprise even though Apple does not focus on the enterprise market, vendors with enterprise expertise have not had much success creating their own enterprise tablets. Research in Motion's PlayBook was met with a collective shrug, and the company's broader struggles probably hinder its ability to funding a major marketing hype campaign. Cisco Systems in short order launched and then discontinued its Cius tablet, a product that many market observers said Cisco should not have even attempted. Google, meanwhile, may yet join the tablet race, so Apple is not the only competitor Microsoft needs to worry about in the tablet market.
Meanwhile, Microsoft also formally previewed Windows Phone 8, an operating system that appears to have a lot to offer enterprises with mobility ambitions. It includes native operating system support for video chat and VoIP applications, as well as mobile device management and enterprise security encryption features. Notably, Microsoft announced a "Company Hub" capability to create corporate portals for enterprise users.
It's taken a long time for Apple to become a serious player in the business world, where IT pros tended to look at devices from the company as appropriate for school kids and, ugh, artists and writers, but not for enterprise use. But the introduction of the iPad has changed all of that, with more and more companies looking to it as a (relatively) cheap, portable and powerful tool for everything from their sales team to executives looking for a better mobile endpoint for videoconferencing. Now, Apple is looking to make inroads into another business bastion that hasn't really bought into the "magic" of Cupertino: the database. Apple's FileMaker Pro has rolled out new releases of its 32-bit and 64-bit software that's aimed at SMBs, enterprises and their iPads. Not surprisingly, it's starting to gain traction. Article
22/03/2012 - Vidyo demos HD videoconferencing on Apple's new iPad
Think the videoconferencing industry was going to let an opportunity to take advantage of Apple's new iPad high-resolution screen slip past? Think again.
Startup Vidyo this week demoed what its service looks like on the latest tablet from Apple, highlighting low-latency, multipoint video conferencing with 3 mega pixel content sharing over a 4G LTE network connection.
Vidyo will be demonstrating the app running on the new iPad at Enterprise Connect in Orlando, Booth #631, from March 26 to March 28.
"VidyoMobile on the new iPad provides a highly compelling user experience for the enterprise video conferencing customer," said Ofer Shapiro, CEO and co-founder of Vidyo. "The 2047 x 1536 pixel display allows us to provide a level of HD videoconferencing resolution never before seen on a tablet device, including 3 mega pixel application sharing capability, allowing Vidyo to unlock and expand new applications and usage models."
The tablet, he said, could lead the way for even more widespread adoption of videoconferencing among enterprise customers, a segment that analysts say is likely to aggressively move into the technology over the next year.
The company, which is nipping at the heels of more established players in the space like Cisco (Nasdaq: CSCO) and Polycom (Nasdaq: PLCM) with its unique videoconferencing architecture, has pushed its mobile play hard over the past several months, and has some significant wins in the telemedicine segment as well as with enterprises and SMBs.
- see this release
Report: Nearly 75% of SMBs plan tablet buy--likely an iPad--in 2012
Vidyo debuts video conferencing app for Android devices
Vidyo's virtualized videoconferencing a potential game changer
VidyoMobile for Apple's iPhone 4s
Vidyo rolls out mobile support for Apple devices
15/03/2012 - Apple's new iPad can't use LTE for Facetime calls
If you're planning on picking up Apple's new iPad when it rolls out tomorrow, you may be a little disappointed to learn that carriers have acted to make sure you won't be using Facetime over those blazing-fast LTE network connections. The Verge reports that users who try to initiate a FaceTime session over 4G fail out and are told to "Connect to a Wi-Fi network to use Facetime." Article
Hitching a ride on the wave of publicity generated by Apple's (Nasdaq: AAPL) launch of its new iPad, videoconferencing firm LifeSize announced its ClearSea mobile solution has added the new tablet to its list of supported devices, expanding the functionality of its standards-based collaboration tool.
The Logitech (Nasdaq: LOGI) subsidiary, which is based in Austin, Texas, also said it now supports iOS 5.1, a move that will help its adoption among the millions of enterprise users expected to adopt the new iPad launched Wednesday and shipping this week.
LifeSize is available on an array of mobile devices, including iOS and Android-based mobile devices from Apple, Dell, Google (Nasdaq: GOOG), HTC, Motorola and Samsung.
The solution allows users to connect from any Apple smartphone or tablet, including the new iPad, to any standards-based video conferencing system. Additionally, LifeSize ClearSea enables users to be connected via multiple devices simultaneously and reached with a single number.
"Demand for extending video conferencing to mobile devices is exploding," said Colin Buechler, chief executive officer of LifeSize Communications. "Mobility is enabling companies to get closer to their customers, partners and employees...Mobility is a critical trend in visual communication."
LifeSize ClearSea is an enterprise-class client/server solution for desktop and mobile video collaboration. Users can connect from their desktops or mobile devices to any H.323 or SIP-based videoconferencing system.
- see this release
LifeSize debuts 'universal' video collaboration platform
LiveSize sales up 6% in otherwise dismal Logitech 3Q; firm again lowers 2012 guidance
Videoconferencing firm LifeSize names Buechler CEO
Logitech announces LifeSize ClearSea video conferencing will support iOS 5, iPhone 4S
LifeSize brings its videoconferencing technology to the cloud
Some of us spend a few minutes picking up our offices before a videoconference; others may comb their hair or adjust a scarf or tie. Now, a doctor in Northern Virginia says he has developed a procedure that gives users the ultimate "look" they need to have for making calls using Apple's Facetime. The plastic surgeon, Dr. Robert Sigal, said his wife suggested he develop a "Facetime Facelift" to alleviate the "heaviness, fullness and sagging of the face and neck." Article
Polycom's RealPresence app is now in the App Store.
The company said it plans to make its RealPresence app available for the iPhone 4S early this month and will soon follow that with one for smartphones using Google's (Nasdaq: GOOG) Android 4.0 OS.
The app provides users with a secure, enterprise-grade video software solution for mobile devices--a feature users increasingly are saying is important. Polycom said its app allows mobile device users to easily connect with other standards-based video systems including immersive video rooms, group and desktop systems, laptops, tablets and smartphones in HD quality.
The app can connect over Wi-Fi, 3G or a 4G LTE connection, Polycom said.
RealPresence Mobile can be registered to the RealPresence Platform, giving users features including provisioning, management, firewall traversal, content sharing and connectivity to desktop and immersive video room systems, including multi-party calls.
"Polycom's vision is to make video collaboration ubiquitous by delivering easy-to-use, standards-based software to anyone on any device," said Andy Miller, CEO of Polycom.
- see this release
Polycom, Ericsson partner on standards-based VaaS offering
Polycom takes lead in APAC videoconferencing market
Polycom continues executive shuffle, names EA's Brown to dual CFO, COO role
Polycom adds 5 execs from Cisco, HP, Intel, Juniper, as it readies enterprise push
Polycom rolls out wholesale, carrier-ready video-as-a-service
If you own a relatively new smartphone or tablet like Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL)'s iPad, chances are you've at least noodled around with video calling through any number of apps including Facetime, Tango, Skype and more.
Ditto in the office. Videoconferencing isn't yet ubiquitous, but the gains in popularity it has seen as a cost-cutting tool and for collaboration among teams point to it becoming so.
So, if you think you're likely to avoid it at home, think again. The technology is a nascent one, and there are only a few vendors pushing it hard, but, according to new research, it's likely to grow more than tenfold by 2015.
Attribute it, in large part, to the popularity of social networks like Facebook and Google+, which, with the increasing prevalence of services like Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT)'s Skype are beginning to push living room video calling to the forefront.
In the U.S., cable provider Comcast (Nasdaq: CMCSA) is teaming with Skype to launch video calling for its customers; globally, Logitech (Nasdaq: LOGI) continues to introduce new high-end, low-cost webcams, like its 1080p C920 for $99 that it introduced earlier this month.
NPD In-Stat, in research released today, forecasts total users will increase from 1.5 million in 2011 to 16.4 million in 2015. Granted, the numbers aren't huge, put the potential is.
While video calling has been around for several years, the ease of connecting on mobile devices has helped push it to the forefront of consumer adoption.
The digital home market, however, has been slow to ripen. But, with social networking as a catalyst, expect that to change.
As NPD analyst Amy Cravens points out, "While the mobile market is experiencing the strongest growth in usage, the PC and living room calling markets are also experiencing a surge of large player activity."
She said Skype's integration with Facebook and Google+'s incorporation of Hangout has provided a new perspective.
"Introducing this capability to the living room, enabling HDTV video chat, is an additional aspect of the market that is being endorsed by industry giant Microsoft as well as leading device OEMs including Panasonic, Samsung and LG," she said.
Her forecast? A whopping increase in video calling minutes approaching 550 billion minutes in 2015, up from just 141 million minutes in 2010.
But despite increasing bandwidth to homes, Internet connection speeds have remained the weak-link in HD video calls, with average speeds of a few megabits per second (Mbps). While VGA only requires 147 Mbps of data, full 1080p HD requires nearly one gigabit per second of data.
For video calling technology to reach full acceptance by consumers, HD calls likely will be required.
Logitech's VP and GM for business Eric Kintz agreed, telling FierceEnterpriseCommunications that its own research and customer feedback shows users want simplicity of use and "sheer quality" of picture. He says the new C920 is "the best quality camera we've produced to date," both in terms of optics and technology. The C920, he said, encodes the video at the camera rather than relying on a computer, which means less processing power is needed, opening up the range of laptops, desktops and connected devices, like smart TVs, that will be able to support high-quality video calling.--Jim
24/01/2012 - Avaya unveils Flare Communicator for Apple's iPad
With Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL)'s iPad continuing to see aggressive adoption by enterprises, it has been no surprise to see UC vendors scramble to get their platforms connected to the device. Add Avaya as the latest entry.
The company has rolled out a secure, next-gen unified communications solution for use on the iPad.
Avaya's Flare Communicator for iPad tablets, which works over either Wi-Fi or 3G networks, extends the Flare Experience currently delivered on the Avaya Desktop Video Device, to include the popular tablet. The free app is currently available for download in Apple's App Store, and Avaya promises it will be rolling out apps for other mobile devices later in 2012.
With the new app, users will be able to view the availability of enterprise associates from the contacts card, launch an instant message, voice call or email with a single tap. It also enables users to manage two simultaneous voice calls while mobile, multi-task on the iPad and access and add contacts to a corporate directory.
Customers with Avaya Aura 6.1 or later can add up to 50 Avaya Aura client access licenses at no cost to connect users to Flare Communicator during an introductory offer through April 30.
Pew Research Center this week said tablet ownership in the U.S. had grown by some 19 percent over the past several weeks, nearly doubling from 10 percent just prior to Christmas. In the September quarter, Apple sold 11.2 million tablets and indications are that Apple will report some 13 million sold last quarter.
Avaya earlier this month introduced a mobile UC app for the Android OS that enables enterprises to use Avaya's IP Office 8.0, including the ability to invite, view, mute and drop participants during a conference call.
The app lets users display their availability and show specific times of availability based on a user's Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) Outlook calendar. The app also includes instant messaging, a geopresence display that lets users display their location and visual voicemail.
One-X Mobile Preferred for IP Office builds on Avaya's existing Essential Mobility solution for IP Office, which extends voice capabilities such as one number access and call control.
- see this release
Avaya, playing catch-up with several other vendors, has rolled out a mobile UC app for Android devices, enabling SMEs to access a set of unified communications capabilities. The company said it plans to release an iPhone app in early 2012.
The app for Avaya's IP Office 8.0, one-X Mobile Preferred for IP Office, allows users full conference management through their mobile device, including the ability to invite, view, mute and drop participants during a conference call.
The app lets users display their availability and show specific times of availability based on a user's Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) Outlook calendar.
The app also includes instant messaging, a geopresence display that lets users display their location and visual voicemail.
One-X Mobile Preferred for IP Office builds on Avaya's existing Essential Mobility solution for IP Office, which extends voice capabilities such as one number access and call control. Already available on Symbian, Windows Mobile and iPhones, Essential Mobility will be available for Android and Blackberry devices in first quarter of 2012.
Avaya is the latest in a string of vendors to announce mobile platforms for their technologies, especially to Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL)'s iPad and iPhone and to a variety of devices running oin Google (Nasdaq: GOOG)'s Android OS.
The mobile segment is seen as a potential boon market as 37 percent of the world's workforce, about 1.3 million people, is expected to be mobile by 2015, new research finds.
- see this release
Report: 'Healthy growth' expected in number of mobile workers
Motorola's newest tablet to ship with Polycom's RealPresence Mobile app
Polycom offers enterprise a full tablet video-conferencing solution
Report: Nearly 75% of SMBs plan tablet buy--likely an iPad--in 2012
Count on a sizzling videoconferencing segment in 2012
17/01/2012 - The iPad has become the Apple of Enterprise's eye
It wasn't that long ago that, as an editor at a daily newspaper, I brought my Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL) laptop to an editorial meeting and received an extra helping of abuse from everyone at the table but the head of the graphics department for bringing my "game" computer to a serious meeting.
That former daily paper now only does home delivery three days a week, and the number of pages in its Sunday product now rival a weak Tuesday. Ah, how times have changed. I don't know how many of its reporters and editors now use MacBookAirs, iPhones and iPads, but I'm guessing the number tends toward a majority.
A couple of months ago, an AllThingsDigital story pointed out that Macs--desktops in particular--were becoming more common in the workplace (actually, the story said, "There's really no other way to say this: The Mac is kicking ass").
Click here to zoom in on this chart.
Just last week, new Forrester numbers said Apple is riding high on the bring-your-own-device wave, forecasting it could see a boost to its revenues of up to $19 billion this year as enterprises pony up $10 billion for iPads and another $9 billion for Macs. But, according to Forrester's Global Tech Market Outlook, that could be small potatoes in light of the $16 billion and $12 billion it expects enterprises to spend for iPads and Macs in 2013.
There's more news this week to back that up, certainly on the tablet front.
IDG Connect, in a survey titled iPad for Business, said the device has become as ubiquitous in business as the BlackBerry once was, becoming the go-to tool for some 60 million users around the world. According to the survey, IT and business professionals use their iPads intensively, across a wide range of scenarios. More than half (51 percent) of IT decision-makers say they "always" use their iPad at work (and a further 40 percent say they sometimes use it at work). Out-of-home usage is even more intense, with 79 percent of IT decision-makers saying that they "always" use their iPads "on the move."
Predictably, this survey confirms that iPads are better suited to consumption, rather than generation, of content. Around three- quarters use their iPads for news consumption and web browsing.
Surprisingly, IT and business users in South America and Europe have embraced the iPad more than their North American counterparts. Twenty-seven percent of South American respondents said they'd "completely replaced" their laptop with an iPad, and 23 percent of Europeans did likewise.
Click here to zoom in on this chart.
Increasingly, business users are turning to their iPads for work communications, said IDG.
IDG didn't break out any data that defined whether iPads were being used in VoIP applications, email, video calling, videoconferencing, or for collaboration, but it did say that in North America, a whopping 67 percent said they "always" use their iPad for work communications. That number, considering only 40 percent of iPad sold have 3G connectivity and Wi-Fi, will likely go up when Apple rolls out its next iteration that includes LTE.
IDG saw the iPad as a significant potential market for technologists. Judging from the spate of enterprise communications apps that have hit the market in recent months--from video conferencing to VoIP calling--they're not alone.--Jim
Apple, which has long played second fiddle to Microsoft when it came to sales to enterprise customers, is riding high on the bring-your-own-device wave. New research says it could seen a boost to its revenues of up to $19 billion this year as enterprises pony up $10 billion for iPads and another $9 billion for Macs. But, according to Forrester's Global Tech Market Outlook, that could be small potatoes in light of the $16 billion and $12 billion it expects enterprises to spend for iPads and Macs in 2013. For more, see this AllThingsDigital article.
Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) has been pushing hard into the enterprise space with its recently redesigned suite of cloud-based apps.
And it's really making some waves. Increasingly, government agencies--like the State of Wyoming, which moved all of its 10,000 employees to Google Apps for Government in June, and the federal government's General Services Administration, which moved 17,000 workers to the platform in July--are looking at the potential savings and buying into the software.
Wyoming expects to save at least $1 million annually; that number increases if it factors in employee productivity and server and licensing costs. It also spent less than the $5 million it allocated to make the move, which included consolidating email from the 13 current platforms it employs to a single Google cloud-based platform.
"Just looking at the number of staff alone that were dedicated to handling the mail solutions when they were disparate across agencies, you're going to see a dramatic change in the amount of personnel required by the state," Flint Waters, the state's CTO said at the time.
The GSA, meanwhile, moved 17,000 employees to Google Apps; it was the first of more than a dozen federal agencies that are slated to make the transition. That move will cost taxpayers $6.7 million, but it is expected to save the GSA alone about $15.2 million in reduced email operation costs over the next five years, said GSA Administrator Martha Johnson. The federal market alone for cloud services is expected to top $20 billion.
Integral to all of this, of course, is the Gmail component of the suite, a piece that currently holds just a 1 percent market share in the enterprise space. But it holds so much potential that Gartner earlier this year classified it as a significant threat to Microsoft's (Nasdaq: MSFT) email dominance.
But not everyone is thrilled with Gmail's functionality (aside from its recent redesign).
In Los Angeles, the Google Apps for Government roll out at the LAPD hit a major snag when officials raised concerns about possible security issues. The problems are nagging enough that a number of critics have raised concerns about the suite's ability to replace products from other vendors, most notably, Microsoft.
New, often, is hard. As IDC analyst Al Hilwa told the Wall Street Journal about the Google-LAPD tiff: "When you're trying to do something new and disruptive, you're going to have to go through these teething things."
And, there's the rub. Enterprise customers aren't as likely to be willing to suffer through the fits and starts of new technology, especially relating to security. They're looking for technology that solves problems, saves money and is generally easy to implement.
Apple's (Nasdaq: AAPL) iPad is an example of that. And, even the iPhone, which early on met with resistance from businesses worried about support and the burden of yet another device on their IT staff, has become almost ubiquitous in its enterprise deployment.
That's why Google's faux pas this week in rolling out a buggy Gmail for iOS 5 app carries such potential weight.
Even though Google quickly pulled it off the virtual shelves of the App Store, there was such a strong reaction to it that I won't be very surprised it Google waits awhile before re-releasing the app, giving the angst it created some more time to dissipate.
Personally, I can't wait for a native Gmail to be released for my iPhone... but I'd like it to actually work this time. How about you?--Jim