Dell Expands TelePresence Market

The VAR Guy

May 16, 2008

2 Min Read
Dell Expands TelePresence Market

If you want to know when a high-tech market is reaching its tipping point, keep a close eye on Dell Inc. Generally speaking, Dell only jumps into high-volume, mass market opportunities. So the company’s decision to offer TelePresence solutions — designed by LifeSize Communications — is worth watching. Here’s why.

LifeSize is a small but fast-growing player in the TelePresence space. Generally speaking, the company’s next-generation video conferencing systems serve small and midsize businesses, government, financial, education, and healthcare customers.

While TelePresence systems from Cisco Systems and Hewlett-Packard can cost $250,000 or more per executive suite, LifeSize’s solutions start at less than $5,000.

The VAR Guy is not suggesting that LifeSize’s $5,000 solution is anything like the far more sophisticated offerings from Cisco and HP. However, aggressive pricing and entry-level solutions will certainly help to grow the overall market for TelePresence, as The VAR Guy pointed out last year.

And in early May 2008, The VAR Guy pointed out that TelePresence was nearing its tipping point.

Seeing the Bigger Picture

That’s where Dell — and Tech Data — enter the picture. Both companies have signed on to resell/distribute LifeSize, notes Dan Sibille, the head of partner channels for LifeSize.

Dell’s move is particularly interesting, since the company typically does not promote bleeding-edge technology. Instead, Dell waits on the sidelines for a technology to reach critical mass, and then jumps into an industry to cash in on volume sales.

Apparently, Dell’s mass market strategy is evolving. Over the past year, the company has introduced open source IP PBXes (from Fonality), consumer PCs with Ubuntu Linux preinstalled, and now TelePresence offerings from LifeSize.

By partnering with niche companies, Dell is able to test emerging markets right when they seem to be nearing their tipping point. TelePresence, The VAR Guy believes, is the latest example of that strategy.

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