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Immersive Telepresence: New Systems for a Declining Market

March 3, 2015 | Telepresence Options

CiscoIX5000_and_TX9000

Story and images by Brian Riggs / No Jitter

Super big video conferencing systems may only serve a niche in the enterprise, but that hasn't stopped ongoing development from Cisco, Polycom, and Huawei.

When it comes to video conferencing these days, virtual meeting rooms, mobile and desktop clients, cost-effective cloud services, and similarly democratizing solutions are in. Super big systems that deliver a super quality experience at super crazy prices are out. Or are they?

If you go by the numbers, things look pretty gloomy for immersive telepresence solutions, those high-end systems that use HD video, life-size images, just-so lighting, and custom furniture to create the illusion that all participants are in the same conference room. While Ovum doesn't do forecasts of communications systems, some of my friends at rival analyst firms do. IDC analyst Rich Costello, for instance, said in December 2014 that multicodec telepresence equipment revenue was down nearly 16% year over year. Earlier in 2014 the numbers were even less kind, with the estimated year-over-year decline ranging from just over 26% to nearly 35% depending at which quarter you look.

CiscoIX5000

Rowan Trollope's IX 5000 demo at Cisco Collaboration Summit 2014

Moreover, the market for immersive telepresence systems is only about one-tenth the size of that for regular room-based systems -- $34 million compared with $347 million, again according to IDC. But that's revenue for just one quarter. There's about $130 million to be made annually from immersive systems, and even if the figure is dwindling that's still a big chunk of change. This is at least in part why we're seeing not just continued development on and incremental upgrades to immersive telepresence systems but vendors releasing entirely new generations of their systems.

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