It’s always fun, in the first couple months of the year, to do a little bit of predicting about the year to come, and at LifeSize, that means speculating about the state of video conferencing over the next twelve months. Our video evangelist, Simon Dudley, recently hosted an excellent webinar about why 2014 would be the big year for video conferencing, but what about the trends and developments that won’t be happening this year?
Room-based conference systems will go the way of rolodexes and typewriters: It seems like naysayers have been predicting the demise of larger room-based conferencing systems for years now, and now that companies are beginning to adopt mobile- and desktop-compatible conferencing software in earnest, a lot more people are jumping on the anti-room system bandwagon. But not so, says Simon; if anything, the growing ubiquity of mobile conferencing will actually drive interest in meeting-room units. More users “in the field” will in fact equate to more people remote-attending meetings at the home office. Additionally, the high-quality picture and sound and the immersive environment of room-based systems mean they can never truly be replaced by smaller options, much as seeing a movie on television can never truly replace the theater experience.
Microsoft will finally get its act together with Skype. When Microsoft acquired Skype for $8.5 billion back in 2011, a lot of people thought it was the first step in the company’s battle for video communication supremacy. But since then, the once-vital startup has turned into a textbook case of corporate inertia, a subsidiary whose parent company doesn’t know what to do with it. WebRTC is increasingly meeting the market needs Microsoft must have thought Skype would address. There’s always the chance that a new executive could breathe fresh life into Skype, but Simon isn’t holding his breath.
Blackberry and Windows Mobile make big strides forward. Not to beat up on Microsoft here, but their Windows smartphone OS is clearly not the big player they hoped it would be (despite modest success in Europe), and RIM’s BlackBerry is no longer the powerhouse it once was. Microsoft was just too late out of the gate to do anything but look at the competition leading the way. IDC estimated that in 2013, 91 percent of the market was controlled by Android and iOS – a trend we think will continue going forward.
So there you have it: three things that definitely won’t happen in 2014. But what else don’t the stars have in store for the video communications industry over the next several months? You can find out more about these topics and more in this video conversation between Simon Dudley and Telepresence Options Magazine Editor in Chief Howard Lichtman here.