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New player enters video conferencing market

LG Electronics has an SMB-focused offering that boasts compatibility with Cisco products

LG Electronics Canada has launched its video conferencing system (VCS) family, aiming to both compete with and complement existing systems from other vendors.

“We’re one of the very few brands that not only does our own R&D, but we have our own factory,” said Frank Lee, senior manager of corporate marketing for LG Canada. The VCS is a manifestation of that investment into research and development.

The company’s AVS2400 desktop video conferencing solution and RVF1000 product launched in late September and fall under the $5,000 price point. Official availability of its new V5000 and V5500 multi-video conferencing products is still pending here. Those products will be above $5,000, but still “nowhere near” other competitors’ portfolios. The low price point for the solution is really what will push it toward success, Lee said.

LG’s products are “plug and play” out of the box solutions as well, making them cost effective and easy to use for small businesses, education institutions and home offices, said Lee.

Competing vendors have been lowering their prices on SMB videoconferencing solutions. However, there are often hidden costs involved in signing on with other companies, Lee said. “I didn’t know how expensive it was and I didn’t know that there was a licensing fee,” when he looked at competitor features.

There are also features that some vendors consider premium that LG includes without an extra fee. With LG’s solution, features such as recording video sessions are built in without extra cost.

“There is little ‘special’ to differentiate LG’s VC offerings from others targeting the SMB space, other than the ability to use a single remote control for both the VC functions and the television/display,” James McCloskey, a senior analyst with London, Ont.-based Info-Tech Research Group, told CDN via e-mail. However, he noted that most competitors provide a means to program their remotes to enable control of the display as well.

LG’s offerings suffer in that they’re not part of a spectrum of other technologies such as desktop and mobile VC and telespresence, McCloskey said. But for small organizations, the price point could prove attractive.

But LG is looking to compete by building upon customers’ through interoperability. “The solution that we have is compatible with legacy systems,” Lee said. The products can integrate with a range of programs, such as Cisco Systems and LifeSize Communications.

“If a particular business is looking to refresh or build upon their solution, they may only have had one choice.” Now, customers can choose LG’s products to use with their existing networks. “The VCS for us gives our target business solution partners and also end users…a new alternative that hasn’t been available,” he said.

That means that the company could potentially partner with resellers of competing vendors’ technology, not just its own solutions partners. “We’re non-proprietary and we’re looking for partnerships that give us the widest exposure and opportunities as well,” Lee said.

Customers and partners can also have faith that LG’s solutions won’t be discontinued, since the company invests heavily in R&D here in Canada. “We’re not going to disappear.”

Follow Harmeet Singh on Twitter: @HarmeetCDN .