On Wednesday, October 6, Cisco Systems unveiled its new videoconferencing product for the home, named Umi. Although this product is consumer-focused it represents the first attempt by a major hardware provider to bring videoconferencing to the mass market, which usually precedes a drive toward cost reduction. The units currently cost $599 and require a $24.99 per month subscription. In addition, you have to already own (or purchase) an HDTV (1080p) set, but this represents a significant reduction in cost to units already on the market for business. The sets reportedly will work with other conferencing services, most notably Google’s.
Skype, who currently offers a free videoconferencing service, touted the fact that early adopters will suffer the inevitable de-valuation of the expensive hardware, but every new technology has early adopters willing to pay top dollar for equipment just to be the first to own it. Time will tell if the service survives.