Galaxy Tabs to soon have access to HD videoconferencing

Polycom software won't ship on the first Samsung Galaxies, which go on sale this week

Polycom announced that it has reached an agreement with Samsung to embed high-definition videoconferencing capability in Samsung's new Galaxy Tab tablet computer.

Polycom has demonstrated the videoconferencing capability on the Galaxy Tab, but the Samsung tablet won't include that technology when it first goes on sale later this week through some of the nation's wireless carriers, a Polycom official said Monday.

"It's coming to Galaxy Tab not too far in the future," said Joseph Burton, Polycom's chief technology and strategy officer, in an interview. He added that Polycom expects versions of the tablet with high-definition videoconferencing to be "broadly shipping" over the next two quarters.

Galaxy Tab users will be able to connect with one another in videoconferencing sessions by using the Polycom software. They will also be able to connect to other standards-based telepresence and videoconferencing systems and applications, Burton said.

T-Mobile USA will start selling the Galaxy Tab on Wednesday. Meanwhile, Verizon Wireless will putt the new tablet on sale Thursday, and Sprint Nextel will start selling it on Sunday.

Sprint and T-Mobile are selling the device for $400 with a two-year contract, while Verizon is selling it for $600 without a contract but with monthly data plans. AT&T hasn't officially announced a shipment date or pricing, but it does plan to sell the Galaxy Tab.

Burton said the deal with Samsung to provide videoconferencing software for Galaxy Tab devices is one example of ways that Polycom is expanding the reach of videoconferencing across mobile devices, desktops and room-size setups, often called telepresence systems.

Scalable Video Coding

Also this week, Polycom announced a Scalable Video Coding (SVC) initiative to combine videoconferencing with other collaboration technologies across a variety of platforms running on standards-based software.

SVC software will be shared at no cost to Polycom partners that support open standards that allow interoperability between devices and networks, Burton said. Microsoft has announced that it will adopt the SVC technology to further its desktop unified communications offerings. "Millions of users will have the ability to launch high-definition voice and video straight from a desktop integrated with Polycom unified communications," Burton said.

Polycom also said it has been working with VoIP communications vendor BroadSoft on a cloud-based service for high-def video and voice applications that service providers are expected to sell to businesses around the globe. Details were not disclosed.

Polycom competes with a number of other companies in the videoconferencing market, but its biggest threat could be from Cisco Systems, which recently purchased Tandberg for videoconferencing capabilities. Cisco also offers Webex and a range of IP-based voice and video services. According to Burton, Polycom is focused on growth through reliance on open standards and interoperability with other vendors' systems, while Polycom's competitors, which he wouldn't name, seem to be focused on using their own technology.

Matt Hamblen covers mobile and wireless, smartphones and other handhelds, and wireless networking for Computerworld. Follow Matt on Twitter at @matthamblen, or subscribe to Matt's RSS feed. His e-mail address is mhamblen@computerworld.com.

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