WebEx Ships On Most Sony VAIO Laptops

With one click, users will have an option to create Web meetings where they can share documents, applications, video, whiteboards and desktops.

May 31, 2006

2 Min Read
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WebEx Communications Inc. and Sony Japan said Tuesday they have teamed up to offer Web collaboration services to VAIO Pro laptop users.

Sony will pre-install a desktop icon that links to the WebEx trial on all new TX and BX series models, as well as some SZ models.

With one click, users will have an option to create Web meetings where they can share documents, applications, video, whiteboards and desktops. Sony's new VAIOs will also come with built-in Web cameras and microphones.

The deal could help WebEx expand internationally, aside from its partnership with BT Conferencing Inc., a division of European telecommunications company British Telecommunications plc. The majority of WebEx's revenue comes from North America, about 86 percent of $308 million in the 2005 calendar year.

WebEx's agreement with Sony should also put the company on even footing against rival Microsoft Corp., said Rod Ratliff, an analyst at Stanford Group Co., which doesn't have an investment banking relationship with WebEx."It's long been feared that Microsoft could bundle Live Meeting with their operating system or enterprise packages, such as Microsoft Office, and really upset the competitive balance," Ratliff said. "Microsoft has not had success in that regards, but this is a minor shot across Microsoft's bow to say, hey, we can do this too."

Other analysts called the Sony and WebEx deal "interesting," and questioned whether it will catch on similar to last week's announcement between Google Inc. and Dell Inc., where the computer maker agreed to install Google software, including several applications, on PCs, add a Google toolbar and deliver a co-branded homepage.

ThinkEquity Partners LLC research analyst Nathan Swanson said many PCs will soon ship loaded with 2007 Microsoft Office that will link directly to Microsoft Office Live Meeting, which competes with WebEx's products.

Today, Microsoft offers Live Meeting as a service, rather than bundle it into the Office product series.

"The company that wins the battle will depend on the one that effectively up-sells to customers," Swanson said. "Trying to up-sell onesies, twosies gets pretty expensive."The first SZ and TX VAIO models with the WebEx promotion are on sale in the United Kindom, France, Germany and Italy. The new BX will go on sale soon. The service will roll out in Japan next month. No date has been set for distribution in the United States.

Pricing and packages will vary according to geographies, but on average Sony VAIO users can purchase the WebEx Meeting Center service starting at $65 per month for unlimited use.

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