Re: Happenings in our industry

Jason Williams (
Thu, 23 Jul 1998 05:19:55 -0500 (CDT)

On Thu, 23 Jul 1998, Jamie Erbes wrote:
> Even the big guys are going down in flames. Seems PictureTel's revenues
> are half of what they were last year.

Maybe someone can explain this for me..If PictureTel isn't IP based
videoconferencing, what is it? I believe it uses on the order of Mbps for
its traffic thru satellites, but what mode of transmission does it use?
What set of protocols is it based on?

I've seen many more people going for IP-based videoconferencing solutions
over stuff like PictureTel because of the lower startup costs. If I
recall, PictureTel has been around for ages (long before CU and other
IP-based programs popped up). Perhaps PictureTel is losing the market to
the lower cost IP based solutions. I believe that was one of the driving
factors for developing CU at Cornell: to give common people the ability to
program with the computers and connections that were available at the
time. Maybe Cornell's "vision" has caught up to the big companies like
PictureTel which are seeing losses because of it.

Competition can go many directions...The same thing happened with White
Pine after Netmeeting added video. The same happened with Internet Phone
which used to be audio only (On the Mac, I believe it still is).
Competition forces companies to work harder to produce a better product or
else they can vanish within a year or two.

> I guess the pressure from other videoconferencing players such as
> Polycom, 8x8, and First Virtual is catching up to them.

And CU and Netmeeting and the other IP based solutions. The only one of
those companies I'm sort of familiar with is 8x8 which makes a H.324
videoconferencing program I believe. Is PictureTel's program H.323
compliant? I don't really know as I've never used it. From what I've
heard and read, IP based programs still lack the broadcast
quality/resolution that PictureTel provides. Perhaps companies are
sacrificing broadcast quality pictures in exchange for cheaper costs.

> Is any video-related venture going to create a viable business? What's
> next for us?

Good question...With Microsoft out there pushing Netmeeting, it's realy
hard to compete and make money with a company that gives away its
software. As far as non-IP-based solutions, there will always be a need
(though perhaps a lesser need) for broadcast quality high bandwidth
conferencing that IP based solutions can't provide. Whether or not
there's profits to be seen from it, I'm not sure as I've only really
experienced programs like CU and Netmeeting.

--    * Jason Williams -- Austin, Tx.  |     |       * University of Texas at Austin  | ___ |         * BS Computer Science             \_|_/
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