LifeSize, Logitech Roadmaps To Converge In Greater UC Push

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Video conferencing solutions are seeing higher demand than ever, and both LifeSize Communications and its parent company, Logitech, see their futures in that video demand and the expanding unified communications play surrounding it.

The difference these days versus video and UC sales in previous years, said Craig Malloy, LifeSize's CEO, is the way both channel partners and customers think about video.

"The video communications market is finally in a mainstream state," Malloy said in a recent interview with CRN. "Many resellers that have been making a business out of video for the last 20 years have been serving the early adopter niche market. I've seen five or six successive generations of video product over the last 16 years, and finally, this is a mainstream user demand business, not a missionary sale."

Logitech acquired LifeSize for $405 million in November 2009, part of an ongoing wave of videoconferencing and UC-focused mergers and acquisitions that saw Cisco acquire Tandberg, and, more recently, Microsoft make a play for Skype, and just last week, Polycom acquire HP's video portfolio.

All the while, LifeSize has been an emerging channel story, with VARs flocking to a promise of lower prices on video endpoints and infrastructure products, coupled with higher margins and solution provider incentives.

As of late 2010, LifeSize had more than 1,500 channel partners in 80 countries, and boasts a range of strategic vendor relationships, especially with UC powers like Avaya and Microsoft. Its prices are well below those of higher-end systems from Cisco and Polycom -- LifeSize systems typically run between $5,000 and $40,000 depending on equipment and infrastructure needs -- and LifeSize offers partners usually between 20 to 25 percent gross margin on endpoints.

Beyond even the best-known video vendors, video as a potential sales hook is on everyone's mind, said Malloy, who co-founded LifeSize in 2003 after five years as a senior vice president at Polycom.

"Really, every major IT vendor in the world is making a play in video communication, from software companies to hardware companies and carriers," Malloy said. "This is the beginning of the mainstream in the market, and what we think is a long, profitable run for for video communications not only in the enterprise, but also midmarket and the nascent SMB space. There's a ton of greenfield opportunity for companies like Logitech and LifeSize."

NEXT: LifeSize, Logitech Draw Closer Together

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