Video Upstart Tely Labs Targets Cisco Umi Customers


A startup videoconferencing specialist is launching an aggressive promotion to hook customers of Cisco's soon-to-be-shuttered Umi personal telepresence products -- one that could have an added bonus for the channel.

Tely Labs on Thursday confirmed it will offer Umi customers a "Umi Rescue" program, through which they can receive rebates as high as $100 for Tely's telyHD videoconferencing platform.

"Cisco has proven that it is not easy to build an affordable videoconferencing and collaboration solution that truly meets the needs of consumers of small and medium business users," Sreekanth Ravi, Tely Labs' CEO, said in a statement.

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Founded in 2010, Tely Labs closed two major funding rounds late last year, including a $13 million infusion in September, led by Comcast Ventures and DCM, and a $15 million round in October, led by Comcast and Rogers Venture Partners.

The company launched its telyHD product in January 2012. What it offers is full HD, two-party Skype video calling to conference rooms and homes using any standard HDTV, with no PC required.

Users of Tely Labs' business-level telyHD can connect as many as six locations simultaneously. The Business Edition offering is priced at $499 per location, including the first year of service, and then $199 a year in service, while the regular telyHD is priced at $249 per location, with no ongoing service fees.

Cisco in December began contacting Umi customers, saying it would permanently end Umi services on Jan. 31, 2013. Cisco is offering full hardware refunds to customers through Feb. 28, as well as service refunds on prepaid service contracts.

For Tely, however, there's an added business opportunity. Tely is building a reseller channel, and the company confirmed to CRN that it will allow resellers to participate in updates, renewals and service related to Tely business gained from the Umi promotion. That could be an untapped channel opportunity, given that Cisco did not formally sell Umi units through solution providers.

"The program will begin as a short-term direct promotion from our web site but we will be folding this into our reseller program so our channel partners will get the benefits of ongoing revenue from annual license renewals and future upgrades," Dave Crilley, Tely Labs vice president of enterprise marketing, said in an email to CRN.

Cisco first launched Umi in October 2010, the pitch being that consumers could have business-grade telepresence experiences in their homes. The cost was $600 in up-front hardware and then a $24.99-per-month subscription, something Cisco partners said at the time would limit the system's appeal to consumers. Cisco, they said, was also missing a potential opportunity to sell the system to small business users.

Cisco merged Umi into its business telepresence portfolio in April 2011 and then in December 2011 confirmed it would no longer sell new Umi hardware. Umi joined a recent string of Cisco product flops, including its Flip video camera and Cius Android tablet.

PUBLISHED JAN. 17, 2013