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October 06, 2010

Cisco to Unveil At-Home Video Conferencing Solution

By Beecher Tuttle
TMCnet Contributor

Over the past year, Cisco Systems has made a concerted effort to establish itself in the consumer space by acquiring set-top box manufacturer Scientific-Atlanta (News - Alert) and Pure Digital Technologies, a flip video recording company. Later today, the corporate technology giant is expected to make an even bigger splash in the consumer market by introducing a high-definition video conferencing solution designed specifically for the home.

Several media outlets are reporting that Cisco (News - Alert) will make an announcement in this regard later this afternoon, although company officials have yet to confirm the rumor. If the reports are accurate, consumers will soon be able to video chat with people across the world using their television and a set of high-end cameras and processors. 

By entering the at-home telepresence space, Cisco will put itself in direct competition with Skype (News - Alert), a Web communications giant with a user base of more than 560 million people, Market Watch reported. The solution is expected to cost around $600 plus a monthly subscription fee of $30, according to the Wall Street Journal.

While Cisco has yet to comment on the reports, Skype General Manager Jonathan Christensen was happy to offer his two cents.

“My first reaction is, ‘Wow, that’s a really a big commitment for a consumer in these days when consumers are used to paying very, very little,” he told the news source.

"The question you have to ask yourself when you go out to buy a $600 device and hook it up to your living room system is, ‘Who are you going to call?’” Christensen added.

Currently, Cisco designs and manufactures video conferencing solutions for businesses that can cost as much as $100,000. Although its consumer system will be much more moderately priced, many analysts question whether the product will takeoff, especially considering Skype offers a similar service for no-cost.

In related news, Logitech International is expected to announced later this week that will incorporate a video conferencing feature into its Google (News - Alert) TV-enabled set-top box, which will be launched later this month. Microsoft will also be adding similar functionality to its video game console, Xbox 360, later this year.

Beecher Tuttle is a Web Editor for TMCnet. He has extensive experience writing and editing for print publications and online news websites. He has specialized in a variety of industries, including health care technology, politics and education. To read more of his articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Tammy Wolf

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