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Polycom Buries RoundTable 100

November 7, 2015 | Telepresence Options


Story and images by Andrew W. Davis / Wainhouse Research

If you attended Enterprise Connect in March 2015, you might remember the keynote session when Microsoft's Zig Serafin invited Polycom CEO Peter Leav to join him on stage. On cue, Peter pulled out of his pocket a RoundTable 100, a Skype for Business device developed jointly by the two companies. From my seat in row 195 of the ballroom, RoundTable 100 hardware looked like an Intel Nuc computer combined with a Microsoft webcam and maybe a USB speakerphone.

On November 3 I received an email from Polycom stating, "Polycom and Microsoft have jointly decided not to bring the RoundTable 100 to market. Polycom and Microsoft remain committed to jointly promoting Polycom's portfolio of Skype for Business qualified products, and will jointly focus on promoting Polycom RealPresence Trio as a solution for huddle rooms and smaller spaces with Skype for Business. Early market feedback on RealPresence Trio indicates that this highly differentiated solution will provide Skype for Business customers, including SMBs, a richer experience and an affordable high performance solution which can meet many of the same requirements."

It's hard to know from the outside what's really going on here, but no matter how far along the RT100 development process had progressed, and no matter how many Polycom channel partners and customers have been exposed to the beta version, sunk costs are sunk costs and this "killing" decision is 100% wise for three reasons:

  1. From Polycom's perspective, RT100 had too many purchased parts (Intel computer, Microsoft camera) and too little Polycom value add. It's hard to see how RT100 would have been accretive to Polycom's margins. There may have been an internal "not invented here" factor as well.
  2. RT100, at a proposed MSRP of around $1,000, would have been a competitor to Polycom's recently announced Trio product. Much better to focus Polycom's marketing and sales resources on Trio. Both Trio and RT100 have potential in a) small conference rooms in large enterprises and b) any conference room in SMB accounts. But truth be told, SMB has been a tough haul for the video conferencing industry, so relying on this market segment for revenues and growth is still problematic today.
  3. Microsoft's Ilya Byukshteyn, group product manager, Skype Meeting Devices, may have a better shot at success placing his bets on the Surface Hub product line.

Bottom line: While it's unusual to see a project cancelled after so much water has passed under the video bridge (pun intended), in this case I think cooler heads prevailed.

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