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The State of the Desktop Videoconferencing Market

Frost & Sullivan recently released our latest desktop videoconferencing market study. We think widespread deployment of video at the desktop is still a few years away, but the seeds are being sown thanks to the unified communications market. UC vendors are increasingly incorporating videoconferencing into their desktop clients, and we expect that trend to continue over the next several years. Indeed, we believe the market for desktop video as a standalone offering will grow at low to moderate rates; the high adoption for desktop video will happen as part of UC and collaboration-centric solutions.Business-grade desktop videoconferencing is currently available in the following forms:

* Client-to-client desktop PC-based videoconferencing software * Client-server-based desktop solutions with centralized deployment and management * Desktop video offered as part of unified communications * Desktop video offered as part of IP * Desktop video as part of converged conferencing solutions that include audio, video and web conferencing * Peer-to-peer video chat available as part of widely used consumer IM services

Video is now responsible for approximately one-quarter of all consumer Internet traffic. The so-called YouTube phenomenon has convinced IT that it can no longer ignore video at the desktop. But while desktop videoconferencing can make enterprise communications richer and more cost-effective, there's a difference between deploying videoconferencing via room-based systems, and giving enterprise users unlimited access to videoconferencing on their PCs: The applications can drain bandwidth and create a chaotic user experience if not managed correctly.

Our research shows that large enterprises are starting to evaluate desktop videoconferencing for the entire organization. A key driver for extending video to the desktop is the desire of traditional videoconferencing users to improve the ROI on their existing investments and make video communications more ubiquitous. The room-based and executive desktop (hardware appliance) markets are expected to grow at a unit shipment CAGR of 17 percent and 23.5 percent respectively-so there will be plenty of incentive for companies to extend those investments throughout the organization.

Most companies have other reasons to deploy desktop videoconferencing, of course. The first is simply giving remote workers access to the communications benefits videoconferencing delivers, especially the ability to read body language and facial expressions. Also, many companies recognize that videoconferencing helps people deepen relationships, which is becoming more critical in an increasingly virtual workplace. But perhaps most important of all, as more employees work from distant locations, they need to be able to join their colleagues in videoconferences, even if they can't access a room-based system. This is especially important for executives and high-level managers who work regularly with dispersed teams on strategic initiatives. When one or two attendees can't participate fully in a video conference, they don't have as much impact in the meeting. By integrating desktop video with room-based systems, companies can ensure all participants have the same high-quality and high-value experience.

Polycom (CMA Desktop), TANDBERG (Movi release 2), RADVISION (Scopia Desktop), Aethra (Hydra), and LifeSize (LifeSize Desktop) have all recently entered this market. Other vendors, such as Avistar, Vidyo, Visual Nexus, and IOCOM, have built their product portfolios around desktop videoconferencing and connectivity to room-based systems, and to deliver optimum performance based on the PC desktop's capability. Point-to-point videoconferencing is offered by all major unified communications vendors today; others (Avaya, Cisco, IBM, Microsoft) include multipoint videoconferencing in their desktop applications.

For the entire desktop videoconferencing study please go here.