PictureTel looks to renew interest in videoconferencing

PictureTel looks to renew interest in videoconferencing

PictureTel has embarked on a renewed drive to stimulate interest in videoconferencing with a new product as it attempts to overcome slow market acceptance of the technology.

The company last week launched its Windows NT-based Intel TeamStation System, developed with new partner Intel and billed as a visual collaboration tool, rather than plain old videoconferencing.

The TeamStation gives users the ability to share data and images in real time over a videoconference call, and provide independent Internet and company network access courtesy of high-speed Internet protocol (IP) or ISDN connections at up to 384Kbps.

In addition, the company claims it is the first time the market will have access to an integrated "visual collaboration" package featuring an Intel Pentium III processor-based NT Server, wireless keyboard and mouse, a pan/tilt/zoom camera, and hands-free audio system also capable of making standard telephone calls.

Peter McAlpine, PictureTel's new managing director, said the new focus on videoconferencing collaboration creates demand for its reseller partners to provide integration skills and address real business problems.

"The market has traditionally tried to shoehorn the customer into new technologies," he said.

Falling prices and margins for videoconferencing technology are partly responsible for PictureTel's growing reliance on the channel, McAlpine said. But authorised resellers such as ComTech, Integrated Vision, Vantage Systems, Global Vision Technology and Siemens will find themselves relying more on the service component of the sale for profits as margins continue to fall, McAlpine said.

McAlpine concedes the videoconferencing market has been tough over the last 12 months despite the fact PictureTel itself posted worldwide revenues of $US406 million last year.

"My new role is to restimulate the market," he said. "The channel has led that for us."

Pricing for the entry-level TeamStation for a 128Kbps ISDN link starts at $15,998 without a monitor. The 384Kbps version is $20,798 without a monitor.

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