Google's Enterprise Video Aspirations

Feb 07, 2014

Google has launched a video conferencing solution for businesses called Chromebox for Meetings. Chromebox for Meetings is a simple $999 bundle of a Core i7-based ASUS Chromebox with remote, camera, and microphone for conference rooms. The system uses Hangouts at the backend and is touting ease of use and management.

Google wants to tackle the complexity challenge that typical business videoconferencing users face. Chromebox for Meetings is tightly integrated with Google Calendar, which allows users to easily invite others, schedule meetings, and add rooms to video meetings directly from Google Calendar. It also allows the display to always show the schedule for the room. Supporting up to 15 video streams, users can join meetings from any device that can run Hangouts.

Chromebox for Meetings is targeted at small conference rooms and office spaces for up to 6 to 8 participants. Meetings in huddle rooms clearly provide a more conducive collaborative environment than larger boardroom type settings. The sweet spot for devices in this category is indeed the sub $1k price point. Logitech, Telylabs and some others offer devices at less than $1k.

So what do we think? Well any enterprise announcement by Google has to get attention. Though there are enough skeptics to point out Google’s past failed attempts at enterprise collaboration, we view this as a good play for Google. Clearly it puts aside the notion that Hangouts is not for the enterprise user.

The video conferencing market today has become a confusing landscape for enterprise buyers and users. It is expected to sort itself out as we see solutions emerge that offer the right user experience at the right price point. Chromebox for Meetings can make an impact. But Google is getting into a space where Microsoft and Cisco are firmly grounded. It will need a whole new push including some much needed savvy marketing to put a stake in the ground.

In a separate but interconnected announcement, Vidyo a long time Google technology partner, has announced VidyoH2O. VidyoH2O is an interoperability solution to connect WebRTC-based Google+ Hangouts users to the installed base of voice and video conferencing users that have solutions from Cisco, Polycom, Lifesize, Avaya, Vidyo and others. It will be available both for on-prem deployment as well as for cloud consumption, a smart move by Vidyo to address flexible deployment needs. It is priced on a subscription basis at an attractive $99/month for on-premise deployment, or as a cloud-hosted service for $149/month.

While this partnership with Google is not exclusive, Vidyo is the first vendor to offer the interoperability and is also Google’s preferred partner. Since it will be promoted and supported by Vidyo and Google channels, it gives Vidyo exposure with Google apps customers and new partners. The interoperability also addresses challenges with any-to-any video in a market that’s clearly standing at the cross roads of consumer and enterprise solutions.

Vidyo is also working with Google on including Vidyo’s SVC technology in VP9 and client software in Chrome for scalable WebRTC. Vidyo’s software-driven approach positions it well and provides an opportunity to partner with Google on several fronts.

Roopam Jain


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