Thursday, August 30, 2007

The Cat Is Out of the Bag -- SightSpeed for Business Coming Soon

Those of you following my company, SightSpeed, may have noticed that we have been quiet during the summer months about our next major product release. Well, the cat is now out of the bag. Andrew Davis at The Wainhouse Research Report just yesterday broke the news that our next major product release will be an an entirely new version of SightSpeed that, for the first time, is exclusively developed for the business user -- and, in particular, the SMB market. This new version of SightSpeed -- "SightSpeed Business" -- will, for the first time, bring big business video-conferencing to every business.

Andrew Davis of The Wainhouse Research Report sums up the upcoming SightSpeed Business feature set, price point, and overall positioning very well -- so well indeed that I have excerpted the entire text from the report below:

"Last week we reported on a service offering from Vidsoft aimed at making videoconferencing more attractive to professional services organizations. This week we were tipped off to an upcoming announcement from SightSpeed, likely scheduled for October. SightSpeed will launch a videoconferencing service aimed at SMBs. Users will need a PC, webcam, and a decent Internet connection (128 kbps uplink will do, but 256 is much better). Compared to the SightSpeed service that has been in existence for several years and that offers a free version for consumers, the new service, priced at about $20/month (with volume discounts likely) will feature a totally new user interface, file sharing capabilities, better quality multipoint video, a separate administrator’s console to ease administration and control, rollover capabilities for incoming calls, enhanced video mail, and a PSTN interface to add in audio participants. Perhaps more interesting, the service will feature a live call center (similar perhaps to Glowpoint’s live operator services, but priced differently).

A service like this falls between the Yahoo chat-type video services and the full blown videoconferencing capabilities you may get with room-based system deployments. We’ve believed for several years that the breakthrough needed to take videoconferencing to the mainstream is not to be found in the realm of the hardware manufacturers but rather in the service provider community. Give credit to Vidsoft and SightSpeed for implementing a service that will make videoconferencing easy to use for the masses and low cost at the same time. While SightSpeed is privately held and keeps most of their numbers private, they did confide to us recently that they believe they have 50,000 users who use their service for business purposes at least some of the time. Notably, the number one business reason for using SightSpeed is not to be more green and not to save money, but to have more face time with customers. Think about it! How SightSpeed rolls out a sales and marketing campaign for their SMB service will make for an interesting business case to watch. "

Andrew at Wainhouse is dead on with respect to the tremendous opportunity for the SMB user (and, hence, SightSpeed). Specifically, right now, high quality, secure and cost-effective video-conferencing is out-of-reach for the vast majority of businesses worldwide.

On the one end, expensive room-based systems by Polycom, Tandberg, Cisco and others are simply out-of-reach for the vast majority of businesses, as they can run from tens of thousands of dollars to hundreds of thousands of dollars per end point. These room-based systems also are inflexible/non-portable -- the user cannot take them with them on the road and in the field (and, instead, they frequently simply collect dust).

On the other end, and accordingly, the SMB user who wants video conferencing has been relegated to date to inferior video quality unsupported consumer IM services like Skype. But, the video solutions for the major consumer IM services have been bolted on -- and, the inferior video quality shows. Consumer IM services also feature no live support, whereas SightSpeed Business uniquely will feature live video support.

Additionally, as many in the press and blogosphere have recently pointed out, business and institutional users of consumer IM services like Skype should be particularly concerned about the unique security and stability issues and vulnerabilities surrounding Skype's proprietary closed "supernode" P2P model -- these issues became painfully clear in the past couple weeks during Skype's multiple day worldwide service outage). SightSpeed's CTO Aron Rosenberg recently underscored that SightSpeed's underlying architecture and P2P model are fundamentally different -- SightSpeed is fully SIP-based and fully open and standards-compliant with no need for supernodes.

Accordingly, "SightSpeed Business" will uniquely fill this gaping hole/need in the marketplace for the SMB user -- i.e., to provide a high quality, feature rich, secure, reliable, flexible (portable) -- yet cost effective -- video-conferencing solution. And, although designed specifically with the SMB user in mind, SightSpeed Business also can be used effectively even by the largest enterprises to help "extend the enterprise" so that geographically dispersed or traveling colleagues can meet anytime face to face, anyplace.

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