IDG News Service - Cisco Systems acted to make its Umi home videoconferencing platform more affordable on Monday, slashing the service cost to $99 per year and announcing a $399 product for slower Internet connections as well as free Mac and PC clients.
Umi, an extension of Cisco's high-end TelePresence line for enterprises, debuted last October for $599, with a service fee of $24.99 per month. Many industry observers said the market for such an expensive consumer product would be limited. Though Cisco said Monday that it has been pleased with sales of Umi so far, its first major extension of the line clearly targets price.
The new $399 Umi system delivers resolution as high as 720p and is designed to work on a home broadband connection with 1.5M bps (bit-per-second) downstream and upstream speed. By comparison, the original unit offers 1080p resolution and is intended for 3.5M bps symmetric broadband, a service that relatively few U.S. consumers have in their homes. Both can adapt to slower speeds, Cisco says. Cisco also cut the price of the 1080p product on Monday, to $499. The new service price, available in a $9.95-per-month option as well as the annual fee, is the same for both hardware platforms.
Demand for the less expensive offerings came from current Umi customers who want to be able to enjoy videoconferences with friends and family who may not be able to afford the original product or don't have the high-speed Internet access it uses, said Gina Clark, vice president and general manager of Cisco's Consumer TelePresence Business Unit.
"It certainly helps to grow those consumer calling circles," Clark said.
Cisco also sees the free Cisco Umi Connect software for Macs and PCs primarily as an expansion option for users of the home systems, even though anyone can download the software free. Some features of the full TV-based Umi experience may not be included in the software, but a user's full Umi contact list will be available, Clark said. Umi Connect could be used by friends or family members who are traveling or living in a college dorm, Clark said. The software is in beta trials and scheduled to become available this summer, according to Cisco.
Also on Monday, Cisco announced it is making Umi interoperate with its enterprise TelePresence systems. The main purpose of this is not teleworking, Clark said. For that, Cisco still recommends enterprise offerings such as its desktop TelePresence product for about $300, which has more features for sharing information, she said. Instead, enterprises in areas such as education and health care wanted this compatibility so they could conduct immersive communication sessions with consumers. Health-care applications are in trials now, Clark said.
- Best iPhone, iPad Business Apps for 2014
- 14 Tech Conventions You Should Attend in 2014
- 10 Desktop Apps to Power Your Windows PC
- How to Add New Job Skills Without Going Back to School
- Slideshow: 7 security mistakes people make with their mobile device
- iOS vs. Android: Which is more secure?
- 11 sure signs you've been hacked
- What Datapipe customers need to know about the new PCI DSS 3.0 compliance standard This handy quick reference outlines what PCI DSS 3.0 is, who needs to be compliant and how Alert Logic solutions address the new...
- Defense Throughout the Vulnerability Life Cycle This whitepaper provides insight into how to leverage threat and log management technologies to protect your IT assets throughout their vulnerability life cycle.
- The Critical Role of Support in Your Enterprise Mobility Management Strategy Most business leaders underestimate the importance of tech support when they choose an EMM solution. Here's what to put on your checklist.
- Separating Work and Personal at the Platform Level: How BlackBerry Balance Works BlackBerry® Balance™ separates work from personal on the same mobile device, right at a platform level. Find out how it can work for...
- Live Webcast Best Practices for the Hyperconverged Enterprise Network To the Age of Constant Connectivity and Information overload
- Getting Ready for BlackBerry Enterprise Service 10.2 Find out how BlackBerry® Enterprise Service 10 helps organizations address the full spectrum of EMM challenges, while balancing the needs of both the...
- Containerization Options: How to Choose the Best DLP Solution for Your Organization This webcast outlines a framework for making the right choice when it comes to containerization approaches, along with the pros and cons of... All Networking White Papers | Webcasts