by Brian Bokyo, Contributing Writer
There are a couple of reasons for this. If the main thing that separates you from your competition is price, your competition can simply eliminate your advantage by lowering their price. Maybe they’ll end up taking a loss, but it may be worth it to eliminate you as a competitor. Also, cost isn’t that big a factor in purchasing decisions – anything from brand name recognition to personal aesthetic could justify in the buyer’s mind a reason to go with one more expensive product over a cheaper competitor. Heck, a lower price may even suggest, fairly or not, the idea that the product is poor quality, or that the operation is fly-by-night. Boasting about “low, low prices” brings to mind the antics of Crazy Eddie, whose “prices are in-sane.”
And yet, when you think about what separates LifeSize from its major enterprise market competitors, the most immediate thing that comes to mind – besides HD quality – is price. We are the least expensive of the professional tools in the market, by a large margin. So, what’s the deal? Have we, indeed, like the aforementioned Eddie, simply had some sort of mass psychotic episode in our marketing department?
Well, no. Just as “we’re cheap!” is a very poor message, “we save customers money!” is a very powerful one. It is extremely easy to sell a widget for $X dollars that will save a customer 3 or 4 times $X in the long term. That’s what LifeSize is going for, if you will.
However, specifically in the telecommunications marketplace, being able to save the customer money also happens to result in a less expensive solution all around. This means we can keep our prices lower than our competitors as a byproduct of our design goals, which are to produce the highest quality products on the market.
Take, for example, one of our competitors (who we won’t mention by name). They sell a very high quality telepresence package that includes the office furniture, lighting, monitors, etc., but in order to use their solution, you have to have a network that can handle the vast amounts of throughput at low latency that their solution requires. (It just so happens that the company’s main business concern is selling servers, routers, and other network equipment, as well as the expertise in installing said equipment. How… convenient.) Brute force is one way to approach the problem of preserving the quality of experience in your video conferencing solution, I suppose. Of course, like most brute force solutions, it costs a heck of a lot.
One of the goals of LifeSize’s approach is to work with real-world networks as they currently exist. Rather than forcing state-of-the-art network upgrades, we enable customers to have the best experience using what they already have. Our codecs can handle less predictable real-world networks by adjusting the video quality in response to changing network conditions. During times of congestion, we scale back elegantly, and unless the congestion is extremely severe, you probably won’t even notice.
Of course, you can avoid having any degradation in quality by simply upgrading your network – the brute force approach – but sometimes that simply isn’t an option for real (as opposed to theoretical) IT department budgets. In short, with LifeSize, if you upgrade your network, video conferencing works better, as opposed to needing network improvements just to get the darn thing to work.
Additionally, because of the way we sub-optimize network conditions, we also handle HD video conferencing over the public Internet better than brute force solutions that require massive internal WANs.
Generally, if your company is buying video conferencing equipment, it is because they believe that video conferencing is going to either enable them to make more money or save money. Either way, it is expected that video conferencing provides a return on investment; and the sooner that the solution returns its own cost – that is, the sooner it pays for itself, the better. This is especially true of information technology expenditures simply because IT moves so quickly.
So while the solutions you invest in today will still work in five or six years, it may be worthwhile to upgrade. We’re not sure what technologies will be in vogue that far into the future – 4K? 3D? Holograms? Smellovision? Point is, if you ever find yourself at the point where you want to upgrade, it’s important to make back your initial investment by that time. If it takes you five years to return the cost of the investment, and you need to upgrade in six, how much money are you really saving?
Because LifeSize works with existing networks and interchangeable parts, you make back your initial investment much faster. So, we’re less expensive. When you design your products to work well in a variety of environments, it just kind of works out that way.