Polycom made three new announcements last week for their video lineup. I had a chance to speak with Chris Thorson, Sr. Director of Marketing at Polycom, to get the inside scoop.
As we all know, a good user experience requires a lot more than a quality video image. The workflow itself is important. For many years, one of the banes of the VC world has been the overly complicated remote control. People always found them to be intimidating and confusing, no matter how well designed. On the other hand, users have no problem learning to use touch apps. Therefore, it makes sense to offer a small touch surface to Polycom VC users, to replace the old remote control. From the video (above) the UI appears to be clean and user friendly.
At first, I questioned why Polycom chose to offer this as a hardware, rather than just putting out an app for BYOD tablets. After watching the video, it makes sense to me. This isn’t just about functionality, the product has the kind of styling and design you would expect from a boardroom ready device. The buzz these days may be about smaller huddle rooms, but there will always be the higher end rooms and they will always need a premium video experience.
Polycom has long enjoyed an enviably close relationship with Microsoft. This most obviously manifests itself in the level of integration between Polycom video and Skype for Business. Nearly everyone in the video space has some sort of Skype story and has some sort of relationship with Microsoft, but Polycom boasts a particularly strong and active partnership with Microsoft’s video team. With the latest version of their Group Series software Polycom is clearly leveraging their access to Microsoft’s Skype engineers to create a tight, native experience for both sides of a mixed Skype / Polycom call. With the growing number of Skype4B installs, this is a good place for Polycom’s continued attention and development in my opinion.
The new software also includes Polycom’s Acoustic Fence technology, which is always a big favorite at the trade shows. This is one of those things you have to see to believe. If you watch the video above, you quickly get the idea. It is like the cone of silence from Get Smart, but without the cones. You can be on a video meeting in a noisy room (cubicle or common workspace areas) and the people on your call will hear you and only you. The software blocks all the background noise. The current version requires two microphones, but there is a “labs” (a.k.a beta) version which only requires one microphone. Making it available for one microphone set-ups should should open this up to more users.
The Polycom Group Series has been well liked ever since its initial release, with features like 1080p60 content share. Soon after the release of the Group Series, Polycom beefed it up by adding the full suite of functionality that was previously available in their older HDX series. Ever since then, sales have taken off and users have been pleased. By focusing further development time and effort into the Group Series platform, Polycom is clearly doubling down on this product line.
Finally, Polycom has updated the RealPresence OTX studio, the mid-room sized version of their higher end immersive telepresence experience. Please see the video above for the latest and greatest features. The analysts were wrong when they expected the market for these types of solutions to continue growing forever, and they were wrong when they said the product line was dead. For certain rooms, use cases, and budgets, the face to face three screen premium video room is still the best way to go, and Polycom is one of the few leaders in this space.