Polycom Media Phone Brings Videoconferencing Down to Size

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Polycom’s VVX 1500 provides a programmable, multimedia and multi-application desktop device that provides videoconferencing capabilities and more for SMB organisations.

Video- and audio-conferencing stalwart Polycom is bringing videoconferencing to the desktop with a media phone aimed at the SMB and enterprise spaces.

The Polycom VVX 1500 is a business media phone with a 7-inch colour touch-screen that combines a personal videoconferencing system with VOIP (voice over IP), so users can conduct meetings at their desktop via video—a compelling proposition for companies looking to reduce their travel budgets. The VVX 1500 also boasts an open API (application programming interface) and a Web-enabled microbrowser so users can personalise the applications delivered to their phones.

“Our focus is to go beyond making a call on a voice device,” says Jim Kruger, vice president of voice communications marketing at Polycom. “The VVX 1500 is targeted at the managerial level and above who are looking for single device that can provide different features.”

Media phones are the technology to watch for 2009, according to In-Stat, which recently released a report touting the benefits of media phones. The research firm believes that media phones for business will generate $3.3 billion (£2.4 billion) in annual sales by 2013, while consumer-focused media phones will generate anywhere between $4 billion (£2.9 billion) and $8 billion (£5.8 billion) in revenue for the same time period.

“[Media phones are] a natural evolution of VOIP as the data pipes get bigger,” Kruger says. “And if you look at the mobile phone market, its evolution is parallel—over time they have evolved into smartphones with colour touch-screen displays, and now that’s starting to happen over a desktop phone.”

The VVX 1500 features an open API and microbrowser for third-party applications such as unified communications, CRM and contact management systems to be integrated into the phone, according to Polycom. The microbrowser can display “any type of content from the Web, and users can configure it any way they want,” Kruger says.

Kruger says Polycom is in the early stages of creating a developer network for building applications for the VVX 1500, and the company offers standards-based development tools on its Web site.

“Applications are a good way for companies to generate additional revenue—we will provide a means for developers to market these apps to our customers, and they also enhance the revenue opportunity for the channel,” he says.

Bundled with the phone is the Polycom Productivity Suite, a management software system that gives the user control over the videoconference right on the phone, including recording calls using a USB port on the phone.

Kruger says the economy may temper the interest for media phones, but adds that solution providers can position the product as a money-saving technology, especially for smaller companies.

“If I am a small business and I have three locations and I typically take two to three trips per year, if I can cut out one of those trips, there is a strong ROI and increase in productivity,” he says.

Solution providers also could present alternative financing options to increase interest with customers, Kruger says. “We definitely see a ripe opportunity now because it plays into reducing expenses and increasing productivity.”