Last week was a big week for Polycom as it drummed up business with a bunch of new video conference offerings. Perhaps the biggest eye-catcher was its RealPresence CloudAXIS suite, aimed to help Polycom cash in on the mobile trend in enterprise video conferencing.
According to Jim Kruger, senior VP of product marketing, CloudAXIS uses XMPP technology “ to suck in presence from other applications” which is aggregated into one user interface. This lets you see whether users of Microsoft Skype, Facebook, Google Talk, or “other business video apps” are available for a call. It then allows you to video conference with them by sending a hyperlink which let’s them be added to a call. CloudAXIS will not be released until Q1 of 2013, so user response remains to be seen. We got a test whack at CloudAXIS and while presence sharing with Skype is nice, it doesn’t truly integrate with Skype making the user experience is pretty awful.
Polycom has a nice 30.7 percent chunk of the video conferencing market up 2.6 percent from its year-ago quarter. However, its revenue is mostly from hardware-based systems which may be hearing death knells soon. It has been facing stiff competition from newer cloud-based players such as BlueJeans Network, TenHands, VidTel, and Vidyo. Moreover, arch nemesis Cisco still leads the video conferencing pack with a hefty 44.6 percent of the market and is aggressively pushing its WebEx cloud-based offering. With so much uncertainty in the market Polycom stock was recently downgraded.
A Reuter’s report also speculates whether this may be a move to head off any conflicts of interest with key partner Microsoft. Polycom products offer significant integration with Microsoft Lync and SharePoint. Polycom acknowledges in its annual report that its products could be replaced by Skype.
While Polycom’s effort to reinvent itself as a cloud company is commendable, very few companies can make such a transformation. Cloud leaders such as Facebook, Salesforce, and YouTube are are marked by fast release cycles of days versus Polycom’s release cycle of quarters. Unless Polycom completely restructures its engineering team, it will be too slow to compete with the cloud players, and it will die. The bad news is that restructuring the engineering of any large company is nearly impossible – thus Polycom is unlikely to survive.
- GigaOm – Polycom wants to build a modern conference call that doesn’t suck
- Techcrunch – Polycom CloudAXIS a bunch of cloud-hooey?
- eWeek – Polycom takes on Cisco and Polycom’s new RealPrescence in cloud
- The Brainyard – Polycom adds browser-based video conferencing
- FierceEnterpriseCommunications – Video Conferencing market going mobile