So You’re Telling Me Hardware Is Dead… Again

server-connection-error-1214So you’re telling me hardware is dead…

Every time a new software video conferencing product hits the market, I hear the cries that hardware is dead in our industry. Cloud (Internet) services are all the rage, but the continual cry of hardware being dead from software vendors is stale and has run its course. Maybe someday software codecs will be better than the traditional hardware type, but right now it’s not even close when you compare the experience.

Case in point: We have been using different software codecs to demo our camera product. It turns out that no, you can’t just use any old PC to run the program. It’s requiring my high-end engineering laptop that has enough horsepower to run the 1080p stream to get the best experience possible (at least the 1080p stream is what I’m throwing at it, I have no idea what it’s being downconverted to). For full disclosure, the programs do actually technically work on any PC, but extreme technical issues render its use pointless for our purpose.

My “high end” laptop has small pieces of trash that Dell calls “speakers” and a barely existent microphone as well. More hardware to the rescue as I’m forced into using separate speakers and microphone so everyone in the room can participate.

I will not mention that software requires hardware to run on. No, I will not mention that.

There are only two places where software wins hands down, and that’s ease of install and cost.

However, some software codec vendors have created such a confusing and obscure pricing model it’s really hard to tell if they in fact are cheaper. If your product can be “as low as $5” per user or whatever, you should make it abundantly clear that this is only the case if you buy a hundred or thousand seat license out of the gate (for example). While I am at it, I also think every software provider should include the capability of buying one single license at whatever the cost.

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Many enterprises are still needing the best quality experience and there is no mad rush for them to switch to software. Lync is starting to change people’s thinking but I’ve yet to hear anyone rave about the quality of the experience. In many cases, it’s exactly opposite.

If someone would take the functionality of Lync, the ease of use of Zoom and the overall quality of (any) hardware codec and package it in whatever means necessary, we would have a pure winner.