Vidyo Takes On Polycom By Launching Browser-Based Telepresence And A $750 Executive Desktop System

The video conferencing world is ultra-competitive. I know because every time I get on a video conference with someone from a video conferencing company,* all they ever do is tell me about how they’re leading the industry, and how what they’re announcing will change video conferencing forever by making what was once a siloed, expensive technology available for the mass market by providing best-in-class scalable infrastructure while connecting all of the different legacy video conferencing equipment people already own, which will finally make video conferencing and collaboration affordable, and easy to use, and accessible for everyone.

But mostly they talk about how their competitors suck.

So anyway, in this ultra-competitive space, Vidyo is announcing some stuff today which will blow away the competition and will provide new, best-in-class tools for users who want to do video conferencing and will make enterprise-grade video conferencing at affordable price points a reality for the first time ever.

In a nutshell, Vidyo is rolling out an Executive Desktop video conferencing system for $750, which is software-based and will let you video conference on your iPad or laptop or any other damn thing. In addition to the accessibility of multiplatform connectivity, Vidyo’s system also delivers up to 1080p30 encode and 1440p60 decode, because clearly you’ll want to see your hungover business partners at twice the resolution of traditional 1080p desktop appliances while video conferencing with them. The system contains a floating license, which follows the user, rather than being tied to a single device.

Vidyo also claims to be offering the “industry’s first Web browser telepresence-quality experience,” which I’m not sure if it’s first to be browser-based or first to be 1440p60 system or first to “easily connect a video conference with a single click to anyone on Skype, Facebook, Google Talk” — but whatever it’s first in, it does all those things.** Which is important, because when you’ve got a friend on Skype, of course you want to dial him in with enterprise-level ultra HD video conferencing, if only to be like “Dude, why are you still on Skype when you could be video conferencing like this?”

You might recall that Polycom announced something similar recently, but its video-conference-to-someone-on-Skype offering isn’t actually available yet. But will be soon, it promises.

Since Vidyo is software-based, CEO Ofer Shapiro says the company can offer all this at a fraction of the price of incumbent, hardware-based video conferencing solutions. He showed me a chart with comparable pricing between Vidyo and Polycom, but since I don’t understand the significance of ports or licenses or how these things are sold, it was all kind of lost on me. But if you want, I’m sure a Vidyo salesperson will be happy to walk you through the ultra-competitive pricing that the company offers.

All of this is being shown off at the Gartner Symposium and ITExpo 2012 in Orlando, Fla. this week, and Vidyo will also be demonstrating a new codec for H.265 video encoding. H.265 is supposed to deliver the video at half the bit rate of industry standard H.264, meaning lower bandwidth is needed for comparable quality. That’s pretty cool, but it’s also a few years away. But! When H.265 is ready for primetime, Vidyo will be ready for H.265.

* The only way to do a briefing with someone in a video conferencing company is to video conference with them. This gets frustrating because I have a bad poker face and if I’m bored or disinterested I can’t pretend not to be. And I mean, it’s video conferencing we’re talking about.

** I just know I’m going to get emails from the PR firms of other video conferencing software and hardware providers seeking to set the record straight about Vidyo’s claims and how their own solution is industry leading and better and world-changing, but frankly I don’t care all that much. It’s ok, because they won’t have cared enough to read this end note, either.