Software video conferencing

The question came up about software video conferencing and their corporate use. This post is a bunch of random thoughts regarding it - yeah I know that's a shock coming from me.

I've yet to hear of any software company that has successfully replaced traditional hardware codecs with their solution. Then I started to wonder about the logistics behind a company replacing, let's say, 100 room systems with software. With so many software companies touting their ability to replace hardware (not to mention their insistence that hardware is dead) it is surprising that either it's not happened or that we haven't heard about it.

First, replacing hardware with software requires a capital purchase of....hardware. The company would have to purchase computers, audio equipment and USB cameras for each room. Would a company really spend $100 on a webcam for boardroom conferencing? More than likely, they would opt for a higher quality USB PTZ camera like Vaddio's Clearview for around four grand or maybe the VDO360 camera/speakerphone bundle. You're still talking $1,500 per room. Next is the computer. We'll go ahead and simply ballpark a generic $750 tower PC and now you're at the pricepoint of a codec and camera. No cost saving there.

IT support
We keep hearing how difficult video conferencing is. Must be all the buttons on the remote? Who knows, but when a company obtains a shipment of codecs, it is really a huge one-time burden. After that, all it takes is some simple instructions for everyone on how to make a call, hang up, etc. Software on a computer you ask? The one-time setup is also an ordeal - no change there. Then there are the updates. Windows updates, Anti virus updates, Adobe updates, Java updates, oh for crying out loud. Then your chosen VC software of choice needs an update.

So what if the computer needs a reboot in the middle of an important meeting because of a stealth update? Oops.

Computers need much more hand holding on an on-going basis than does the codec. I mean, when has there ever been a blue screen of death on a codec?

Anyway, it will be interesting if and when I find out that a mass replacement has happened and the issues around it. Just because it can be done doesn't mean it should.


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