Polycom Unleashes Conferencing Product Blitz

As businesses require more collaboration between an increasingly dispersed workforce, conferencing tools are becoming more popular, said Dave Gallagher, vice president of product management of the network systems group at Polycom, Pleasanton, Calif.

"The type of conferencing and collaboration tools we offer have become 'have to have' items, versus 'nice to have,'" Gallagher said.

With its new products, Polycom has introduced improved quality as well as features that make the systems easier to use -- features that should help the technology spread through enterprises of all sizes, Gallagher said.

"With this range of new announcements, there is more value for [partners] to sell," said Mike Seto, vice president of product management at Polycom. "It also starts to create complementary product lines to expand sales."

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After adding audioconferencing capabilities to its MGC family of MCUs (multipoint control units) last fall, Polycom today announced support for integrated Web collaboration. In addition, Polycom's MGC line now supports H.264, a forthcoming compression standard that provides higher quality video over lower bandwidths.

The MGC platform already supports PSTN and voice-over-IP audio calls as well as ISDN and IP video calls.

Polycom also expanded its MCU family with the introduction of MGC-25, a new low-end offering for small and mid-size customers, scheduled for availability this quarter starting at $22,000.

Also new from Polycom is iPower 9000 series of desktop video endpoints, which supports the H.264 standard as well as adds digital conference recording and the ability to stream content to participants on the Internet using Web collaboration tools. Pricing for the devices was not available.

The vendor further added new videoconferencing endpoints to its lineup, including ViewStation EX for mid-range deployments and the Executive Collection, a group of four new top-quality systems that utilize 50-inch to 61-inch high-resolution plasma displays and high-fidelity audio systems that include an amplifier, subwoofer and mounted speakers.

The ViewStation EX is scheduled for availability this quarter starting at $6,499. The Executive Collection, also scheduled for availability this quarter, starts at $49,999.

Polycom also introduced Conference Suite 5.0, the latest version of its call scheduling and management software, which now includes scheduling through Microsoft Outlook as well as network bandwidth reservation and capabilities to manage conferencing equipment and MCUs from other vendors

Conference Suite 5.0 is scheduled to ship this quarter starting at $19,999 for 25 devices.

Polycom also introduced SoundStation VTX 1000, its first wideband conference phone that delivers two times the audio fidelity over standard analog phone lines and announced the Polycom Enterprise Support program, a service package available through the vendor's channel partners.

"The Enterprise Support program helps the channel to address the needs of global customers," Gallagher said. Through the program, partners can resell Polycom's worldwide support services to customers they otherwise could not support on their own, he said.