There’s a product we’ve written about a few times here in rAVe called Biscotti. Biscotti started out two years ago as a little $200 camera that you set on top of a TV that let you connect to other Biscotti users as well as to any Google Gmail user – face to face, via video and audio.
Fast forward two years and now it comes in three models. The “high-end” $249 version includes 802.11abgn networking, has the capability to do multi-party calling (up to 25 people at a time) and delivers 720p video on both ends of the call (via Wi-Fi or wired Ethernet.
Sure, it still sits on top of a TV, but now these features, along with a new wireless keyboard, a separate table-top microphone and clearly aiming itself at the videoconferencing market, Biscotti has to be bugging the heck out of companies likePolycom and Cisco. And, to top it off, they’ve now added XMPP and SIP. What’s next? Skype compatibility?
Basically, what Biscotti is giving you is a glimpse into the future. Sure, it lacks a lot of the heavy-duty features of most professionalVTC systems, but what it does do is show you how simple it is to take videoconferencing to the cloud. Basically, Biscotti is just a camera (5MP), mic and network connection to the Internet. Most of the codec functions are happening in the cloud through the company’s servers. That’s why it’s so cheap ($150 – $250) with unlimited calling for a $25 per month plan (or free if you use less than 40 minutes a month on multi-party calls and all one-on-one calls are totally free). And, since it’s completely in the cloud, they actually automatically record every VTC call for you and store it up to 30 days. Plus, you can then move the call to YouTube or download it at your convenience after that.
Now the company has officially decided the business videoconferencing market is something it wants a piece of. It’s even launched a Biscotti for business site – here’ a video that explains how it works: http://www.biscotti.com/business. If I were you, I’d go there and watch the two-minute video.
So, should the commercial VTC market be worried? Well, maybe a little. Biscotti is a small company and it’s brand new technology. In fact, I’m betting one of the big boys of videoconferencing is already making a play to buy them. Or, if they aren’t, they should.
It’s only $150 for the home version. Oh, and by the way, that $150 one can handle connecting up to 25 people together on one screen, too, as long as you don’t spend more than 40 minutes a month doing it — or you’ll have to pay the $25 per month fee. Why not buy one and try it? I think once you have, you’ll see that this might not just be a thorn on the VTC market side — it might be more like a stake.
Gary Kayye is the founder of rAVe [Publications]. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org