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Logitech Offers Cloud Videoconferencing, Makes Acquisition

Logitech--a company that began by making computer peripherals such as mice, keyboards and webcams--has expanded its LifeSize enterprise videoconferencing business with a cloud-based offering, a new video endpoint for room-sized videoconference systems and the acquisition of a videoconference software company.

Logitech--a company that began by making computer peripherals such as mice, keyboards and webcams--has expanded its LifeSize enterprise videoconferencing business with a cloud-based offering, a new video endpoint for room-sized videoconference systems and the acquisition of a videoconference software company.

Logitech on Wednesday announced the acquisition of Mirial, a Milan, Italy-based company whose software enables people to participate in a videoconference on whatever endpoint device they have available, including a room system, PC, Mac, laptop, smartphone or tablet computer. The devices are interoperable because the software supports industry standards such as H.323 for audio-visual communications and the H.263 and H.264 standards for video compression, says Michael Helmbrecht, VP of product marketing for LifeSize, which was acquired by Logitech in 2009 for $405 million. Helmbrecht did not disclose the terms of the acquisition of Mirial, a privately held, 25-employee company.

Mirial software can be delivered as software installed on a computer, on a server in a client/server environment or sold to service providers that then deliver the technology to their subscribers.

Logitech also announced plans to offer a hosted, or cloud-delivered, videoconferencing service called LifeSize Connection later in the third quarter, for business customers who decide against installing their own on-premise system, which Logitech also sells, he says.

"There are a lot of customers out there who have limited how much videoconferencing infrastructure that they have deployed because it doesn’t fit their environment well [or] they lack the capex, the IT capability or capacity to do it. For those customers, we think they need another alternative," Helmbrecht says.

Pricing for LifeSize Connection is $100 per user per month for an endpoint connection to the service and $30 per user per month for a desktop client, which would include a camera and hardware to host and manage a videoconference. The host can display images of up to nine participants in a videoconference (in what those in the business sometimes call "Brady Bunch" mode). The subscription allows unlimited use of the service.

Lastly, Logitech is introducing a new model of the LifeSize Connect endpoint, for on-premise installations, that offers redesigned hardware and software, Helmbrecht says. The system is presence-based, which means it identifies whether meeting participants are in their office, at home or mobile. It also includes a simple click-to-call feature to bring people into a meeting after selecting them from a corporate directory.

The LifeSize Connect endpoint is the first high-definition video endpoint priced at less than $1,500 and includes a year of the LifeSize Connection service, Helmbrecht says. Logitech is competing in a growing field of players in the videoconferencing business, with companies such as Cisco Systems and Polycom offering room-based systems; companies like Nefsis, Radvision and Vidyo providing video network infrastructure; and consumers getting used to videoconferencing with Skype and Logitech’s own Vid video service.

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