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Videoconferencing Hardware Vendors Shifting Gears, Embracing Software

September 04, 2014

Recent news suggests that the videoconferencing market is seeing both increased interest in software and video management technologies alongside a multi-year slide in revenue. This mix of fortunes is causing some veteran vendors to reconsider their positions in the market to try to keep pace with startups that are making headway with software-based approaches.

Tech news site Eweek.com noted in a recent blog post the relative value of the videoconferencing market as described in an August 29 report from research firm IDC. The research firm concluded that the physical equipment side of the market dropped nine percent at the end of Q2 2014 when compared to the same period last year. Eweek notes that this trend has continued over years, and it has only been bolstered somewhat by a small bump of 1.8 percent from Q1 to Q2 this year and an increase of 5.5 percent regarding the number of units sold in the second quarter relative to Q2 2013.

This news is nothing new for hardware vendors that are seeing profits slip away to software technologies that allow businesses to conduct videoconferencing operations across multiple devices, including mobile handsets, by leveraging the cloud. Rich Costello, senior analyst for enterprise communications infrastructure at IDC, commented on the nature of the market and what hardware vendors are doing with software solutions that are helping them to remain competitive.

"We continue to see the impact of delayed customer buying decisions, lower-cost systems, more software-centric products, and competitive cloud-based video service offerings on the worldwide enterprise video equipment market," Costello said.

He continued by mentioning that the mixed results -- with overall revenue falling but small quarterly nudges clearly present -- are indicative of equipment vendors changing gears by offering cloud-based packages in addition to their hardware products. In order to compete with up-and-coming software/cloud providers such as Vidyo and Blue Jeans Network, hardware vendors the likes of Cisco Systems and Polycom are changing their strategies to meet the demands of the market.

It is clear that businesses are looking toward videoconferencing to aid their respective futures. Employees at all levels can use software and hardware to stay in touch inside or outside the office; some can even work completely from home. However, systems need to be able to offer businesses the flexibility to have resources available when they need it. Such is the power of the cloud and advanced video management software. Long-standing hardware providers appear to be embracing that fact, and only the future will tell whether or not the latest blips of increased revenue and device sales will continue in the face of competition that looks to be offering many businesses everything they need without an ounce of added specialized hardware.

Edited by Alisen Downey