Logitech's LifeSize aims for Android video soon

LifeSize Video Center can stream to Apple iOS devices now and is also aiming for two-way capability

Logitech's LifeSize division expects to bring one-way video streaming to Android devices in a few months and introduce a two-way videoconferencing system to tablets and smartphones later this year.

The company's LifeSize Video Center appliance already can stream meetings and other enterprise video to iPads and other devices based on Apple's iOS. Developing software for Android was more complicated, partly because there are different versions of that OS, but an Android version is coming, LifeSize CEO Craig Malloy said in an interview on Tuesday. The company also is in early discussions with Research In Motion about software for BlackBerries, he said.

LifeSize hopes to capitalize on major trends in business videoconferencing, including cloud-based services and mobility, to remain competitive and deliver on growing demand from enterprises and small and medium-size businesses (SMBs), Malloy said. Though blue-chip names such as Cisco and HP have strong footholds in business video, LifeSize thinks it benefits by being owned by Logitech, a company rooted in consumer peripherals such as webcams.

Tablets, smartphones and PCs are expanding the audience for business video, leading to deployments that reach thousands of potential users in a large organization, said Eric Kintz, general manager of the recently formed Logitech for Business division. The challenge with those deployments is getting individuals to use the tools after they have been made available across the organization, something Logitech does well, he said.

To address the growing ranks of iPhone and iPad users, in February LifeSize extended its Video Center to distribute live and recorded streams such as training sessions, meetings and executive messages to devices using iOS. But the company acknowledged it was also looking at two-way participation and to other mobile platforms.

"There's no real enterprise-class, connected, smartphone video calling," Malloy said. "That's going to become the new broadest part of the [video communications market], whereas today it's PCs and notebooks."

Last month, LifeSize welcomed mobile users and others into its Passport room-based videoconferencing system by integrating Skype into a free software update. Just a few weeks later, Microsoft said it would acquire Skype for US$8.5 billion. It's still not clear how that may affect the LifeSize-Skype relationship, Malloy said.

"It probably will. We're not sure how yet," Malloy said. "We're not sure exactly what Microsoft is going to do with Skype. Our sense is that they're going to leave them as a consumer play, because they already have significant traction with Microsoft Lync in the enterprise."

Either way, the big-name acquisition is likely to mark a leap forward in awareness and demand for video, he added. "However it plays out, we think it's going to be good for us."

LifeSize already works with Microsoft products in addition to Skype. Microsoft Lync is a key part of LifeSize's strategy of integrating its video offerings with broader unified communications platforms, Malloy said.

Longer term, cloud-based services will deliver video for many more enterprises and SMBs, and LifeSize is well-positioned to take advantage of this trend, Malloy said. Cloud-based video takes advantage of centralized infrastructure so customers only need fairly thin, inexpensive client devices to take part and don't have to worry about complex installation issues such as firewall traversal, he said. This should make setting up a videoconferencing system much like installing a tabletop speakerphone, which can be plugged into a standard phone jack and automatically deliver dial tone, Malloy said.

LifeSize is well-positioned to deliver such services, partly because of parent company Logitech's acquisitions of the video chat service SightSpeed and the firewall and NAT (network address translation) traversal software vendor Paradial, Kintz said. Logitech already operates a cloud-based video chat service for consumers, called Logitech Vid, that is hosted in data centers around the world and offered with its consumer webcams.

Stephen Lawson covers mobile, storage and networking technologies for The IDG News Service. Follow Stephen on Twitter at @sdlawsonmedia. Stephen's e-mail address is stephen_lawson@idg.com

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Tags Internet-based applications and serviceshardware systemsPhoneslogitechinternetCraig MalloyMobile handsetsskypeconsumer electronicsGoogleMicrosoftsmartphonesTelephony/conferencingPhone applicationslaptopstablet PCsvideo

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