During the course of my regular briefings with industry professionals I often come across information that I find newsworthy. We have created this recurring feature as a way of sharing these items with you. Below, in alphabetical order, are notes and thoughts from a few of my most recent briefings.
I recently spoke with Eric Tooley, Sr. Product Marketing Manager at BlueJeans Network about their latest developments. I was particularly interested in their new BlueJeans for Facebook Live offering. Eric introduced me to Bryce Morisako, a BlueJeans Product Marketing Associate responsible for BlueJeans for Facebook and BlueJeans Primetime.
I currently see two distinct categories of interactive streaming/broadcasting solutions. The first is the traditional webinar platform, typically used for registered attendees, with costs based on audience size. Bluejeans has offered its Primetime service for some time now to address this need. Please see our white paper on Primetime, which explains how it allows for a higher level of interaction than the typical webinar.
The second category of streaming solution is a new breed of service allowing users to share live video streams from their mobile device or desktop to a social media audience. Facebook Live, as well as Periscope, Meerkat, Twitch, YouTube Live, and others are seeing massive growth with these services. Unlike the traditional webinar attendees do not have to register to watch, but simply click a link (typically shared in a social media feed). These solutions are also free and are often used to host massive audiences.
BlueJeans for Facebook Live is a hybrid allowing for the best of both worlds. Users of the service can create a standard Primetime meeting, with full moderator control over panelists and attendees. This session can then be streamed live to an additional audience via Facebook live. The result is two levels of interaction. Facebook Live viewers can interact via chat and emojis, whereas attendees on the BlueJeans Primetime platform can also be “promoted” to panelists allowing them to share their audio and video.
I was curious if businesses are ready to break down the walls between formal webinars and social media streaming. I was pleased and surprised when Bryce shared many customer examples (under NDA). Not only are their customers already using this new service, they are doing so in innovative and potentially groundbreaking ways.
While that is all the details I can share at this time, I would recommend staying tuned as I expect more announcements from BlueJeans in the near future.
Lifesize is keeping busy. In last month’s Industry Briefings article I shared the details of my conversation with CEO Craig Malloy about their transition over the last two years and their plans for the future. Since that conversation they released a new room system, the Icon 450. Chief Product and Operations Officer, Michael Helmbrecht, briefed me on this new offering.
The Icon 450 has much of what I would expect from a new Lifesize system targeting the huddle room. For example, it has a new, higher quality lens, better handling of low light situations, a wide field of view for small spaces. What I found most interesting is its somewhat unique “smart-framing sensor” feature. Camera control is still a major issue for videoconferencing in common areas. One user might adjust the camera (perhaps to focus on a whiteboard) and then the next person to use the room doesn’t know how to reset it. The result is many meetings with suboptimal camera angles. Lifesize’s new smart-framing sensor detects the people in the room and adjusts the camera angle/zoom to capture everyone. To be clear, this isn’t like the camera tracking capabilities of Polycom and Cisco, which follow speakers as they move around the room to provide a broadcast experience. Rather than track speakers continuously through the meeting, the Lifesize smart-framing sensor is designed to simply adjust at the beginning of the meeting to ensure everyone in the room is in frame. I think approach makes sense for the huddle room, where we are looking for simple, affordable and scalable solutions.
It is also noteworthy that the Icon 450 is the first system designed from the ground up to integrate with Lifesize Cloud. While all Lifesize endpoints integrate tightly with their cloud, this is the first system in the generation of post Cloud solutions, offering a potentially higher level of integration. Of course, the Icon 450 also works as a standalone endpoint, and can be supported by other video services and infrastructures. The Icon 450 is listed at $4,999 and includes their touchscreen speakerphone, allowing users to join meetings by clicking calendar or directory entries. The competition in the huddle room space is getting fierce, but the Icon 450 is priced within a huddle budget and offers a pretty compelling feature set.
It is the end of an era at Polycom. I briefed with Brian Phillips, Sr. Product Marketing Manager for the Polycom RealPresence Group Series, to learn about transition from the classic HDX line of products to the newer Group line. I share my full thoughts in the video podcast embedded above, but the short version of the story is that the Group products have caught up (and then some) to the HDX in feature set and capabilities. While the newer product line was a generation ahead of the HDX from day one, the older product had a long history of development and added features. Today, the Group products can do everything the HDX ever did, and then some (including native integration with Skype4B and support for advanced Polycom features like Eagle Eye Producer and Acoustic Fencing). As such, it would be a disservice to Polycom customers to allow them to continue to buy HDXs rather than Groups. Current HDX owners will not be left in the clutch, as service contracts will be available through October 2021.
It is no secret that the LDV team is a big fan of the workflow messaging category of solutions. The Slack phenomena is not a fad or overhyped. This new way of managing project based communications is helping teams work more efficiently and improve productivity. With this in mind, I have been taking a closer look at various market entries and was happy to brief with Paul Comaroto, Product Marketing Manager at RingCentral. Glip is, in many ways, similar to other entries in the field. It follows the same basic workflow sorting conversations into “teams” (what Slack calls “channels”). In appearance it is a bit more compact, with less colors as the Glip design philosophy is to reduce distractions. It is also a freemium service, although their freemium model is a little less painful than Slack as it doesn’t throttle your message history or file storage. Instead, paid Glip accounts get a higher level of service and more video minutes.
That raises a key Glip feature, integrated video supported by Zoom. The combination of messaging solutions with video solutions provides a powerful communications suite to working teams. While some messaging solutions allow video integrations through APIs, it is certainly an advantage for Glip to offer baked-in video. Glip has other significant differentiators as they seek to add value through ancillary features. For example, they offer a bit of project management capability through a task and calendar features. Glip also offers additional collaboration options, such as the ability to annotate shared image files. I will be sure to check in with Paul again soon as I expect this space to continue to heat up.