Polycom unveils web-based video-conferencing suite

Video-conferencing firm Polycom has announced a new product that it hopes will help it compete in an industry that it predicts will be worth approximately $12 billion (£7.5 billion) by 2015.

The company, which is famed for its video-conferencing products, hopes to differentiate itself from main competitor Cisco with the launch of its RealPresence CloudAXIS Suite. Billed as a ‘first-of-its-kind’ web-based platform, it hopes to answer interoperability, which is one of the main barriers of entry to the use of video-conferencing technology. Due to multiple companies competing for the same space, the video communication experience across devices like desktops, tablets and smartphones is still far from seamless, explained Sudhakar Ramakrishna, president of products and services at Polycom.

RealPresence CloudAXIS Suite aims to address that exact issue, as it lets its customers invite contacts from a plethora of social networking services (e.g. Skype, Facebook, Google Talk) and other business video applications to participate in browser-based video conferences.

With CloudAXIS being vital to the company's goal to wrestle market share from Cisco's all-conquering Telepresence and a general move to a software-based model, Polycom is eager to position the product as potentially paradigm-shifting.

Philipp Karcher, a Forrester Research analyst, was impressed with Polycom's product, though he did not tout it as a game-changer.

"It is an evolution," Karcher told Reuters, adding that there was a lot of interest in browser-based video-conferencing but that Cisco "is also moving very aggressively into the web browser paradigm with WebEx and WebEx."

RealPresence is due for a general release by the end of the first quarter of 2013, but Polycom will be holding trial runs of the service before the end of this year.