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The Battle's On For Control of the Video Dial Tone

March 1, 2012 | Hogan Keyser
Cisco_logo.jpgFebruary 29, 2012 by Nicola Leske via Reuters - Cisco Systems Inc's attempt to convince a European court to impose tougher conditions on Microsoft Corp's acquisition of Skype signals that technology companies are gearing up to battle for control of what some say is the next big thing: videoconferencing.

As the networking giant scrambles to safeguard its market leadership and ownership of a technology that is crossing over from business into the consumer world, rival players like Polycom Inc and Citrix Systems Inc are devising their own user-friendly solutions.

All will contend with Microsoft, which analysts say plans to integrate Skype into its products, potentially boosting the allure of its software and a future crop of Windows devices.

The teleconferencing market is small, but its growing popularity among consumers and its widening use in mobile phones make this struggle -- waged through courts, mergers and regulators -- a crucial one.

"Video is the new world ..., and you will see lots of acquisitions, lots of lawsuits, and those who are behind will use patent litigation," said Krish Ramakrishnan, chief executive officer of videoconferencing service Blue Jeans Network.

Research firm Infonetics forecast that video would be the top trend in telecoms. The global enterprise videoconferencing market will hit $5 billion in 2015 compared with $2.2 billion in 2010.

Videoconferencing is on the brink of widespread adoption. New services and software are enabling a high-speed Internet connection and standard desktop computer, smartphone or tablet to provide quality similar to the expensive systems that were once confined to corporate boardrooms.

In fact, free chat services such as Apple Inc's FaceTime, Skype and Google+ are slowly making video a part of everyday life for many users outside of the workplace.

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