Lifesize Introduces 4K Video Conferencing
Lifesize was one of the pioneers of the business video market but has been somewhat quiet of late. It appears the company is back in action -- and in a big way. This week it announced its new Icon 700 conference room solution and new 4K global cloud service architecture, which is among the first video conferencing solutions with 4K resolution for full-motion video and content sharing. The leap from 1080p to 4K is a huge step up in quality and brings the “in-person” experience to remote meetings.
The Lifesize Icon 700 lists for $7,499 paired with the Lifesize Phone HD for a combined audio/video solution. There’s also a required device software subscription component that is priced at $1,199 for a one-year term. This brings the total price to about $8,500 for the first year, which seems low for a 4K video system. The Icon 700 has a zoom factor of 20x, making it suitable for even the largest rooms.
As is the case with all Lifesize devices, the Icon 700 seamlessly connects to the Lifesize cloud service. However, this isn’t your father’s Lifesize cloud, as that has recently gone through an upgrade from a vertically integrated software stack to a modernized platform built on micro-services. Lifesize cloud’s back-end provides a number of advanced features, including login services, call routing, health monitoring, logging services, management tools, and other features.
Upgrading cloud platforms has been a common theme over the past couple of years, with Five9 having done it in 2016 and Vonage earlier this year. I can’t stress enough how important platform modernization is today. A communications-as-a service (CaaS) provider can have all the fancy bells and whistles in its user interface and slick new endpoints, but that’s not going to create sustainable competitive differentiation. Modernized cloud platforms are complete game changers and let companies innovate faster and update their software more often, without service disruption. CaaS providers with legacy software stacks typically update their systems once or twice a year, as this requires a lot of heavy lifting including taking the service down. Modern Web platforms can be updated multiple times a day if the cloud vendor wants, without having to ever shut the service down.
The integrated endpoint, software and cloud offering has been Lifesize’s differentiator since the launch of the company. By having end-to-end control of the solution from camera to cloud, Lifesize is able to deliver outstanding, consistent quality. There has certainly been a trend in the video community towards interoperability and ensuring endpoints from vendor A work on the cloud service provided by vendor B. This is important for the video industry, as it gives customers greater choice and flexibility -- which Lifesize recognizes, offering interoperability with endpoints from other manufacturers -- but it often comes at the expense of quality, as it’s harder to build in controls.
The approach Lifesize has taken is akin to a computer vendor that delivers an engineered system where the integration of the disparate components and the tuning is done by the vendor. This ensures the highest possible quality while also delivering workflow integrations with messaging and calendaring solutions like Microsoft Teams, Microsoft Outlook, and Google G Suite to provide a seamless path to a Lifesize video call.
A strong proof point that this matters in the video industry can be found in a November press release by Lifesize, in which it announced it had achieved a net promotor score (NPS) of 84. Anything over a 70 NPS is considered world-class, making Lifesize’s score remarkable and highlighting Lifesize’s obsession with delivering the best quality possible.
In addition to the technology innovations in the Icon 700, another area of strength for the company is its channel, which continues to be a powerful path to enterprise customers looking to increase collaboration through the implementation of flexible solutions capable of providing the industry’s most immersive video conferencing experience.
The arrival of 4K video will improve many applications that require exceptional resolution. This includes medical imaging, simulation modeling, and surveillance use cases. Also, the brilliant quality of 4K makes video meetings truly lifelike. By being the first vendor to release 4K video conferencing, Lifesize has an opportunity to grab a chunk of the early adopter market.