Asus and Google are quickly becoming BFFs. As you already know, Asus is the one that builds Google's 7-inch Nexus tablet, and earlier this week, Asus announced plans to release a Chromebox starting at $179 in March. Google has now taken the higher end version -- the one with a Core i7 processor -- and is targeting businesses with a Chromebox bundle that's supposed to make videoconferencing easy.
Logitech on Thursday unveiled a full lineup of HD webcams along with its Vid HD videoconferencing software. By combining one with the other, users are able to make 720p video calls, record in full 1080p HD, and upload HD content to Facebook and YouTube with a single click, Logitech says.
"HD video calling is a critical step toward our vision of a world in which video communication is as mainstream and seamless as a telephone call — for anyone, anywhere," said Eric Kintz, vice president and general manager of Logitech’s video business. "With Logitech HD webcams and Vid HD, you have everything you need to share, to connect, to see the people that matter to you in breathtaking detail that far surpasses the quality of embedded webcams."
For those who want to record in 1080p, you can pick up Logitech's HD Pro Webcam 910 for $100, which also features two mics (one on either side of the webcam lens) and measures just 25mm deep. The Logitech HD Webcam C510 runs a little less at $60 and drops HD 1080p recording, but is otherwise the same webcam but with a fold-and-go design.
Recent maneuvers by networking bigwigs Cisco and Logitech seem to indicate that videoconferencing technology may be headed towards the mainstream market. That hasn't been the case up to this point, as high prices and somewhat complicated equipment have relegated virtual face-to-face meetings to enterprise applications.
But that's rapidly changing. Cisco, Logitech, and a handful of smaller companies have been wheeling and dealing with a focus towards morphing the market into a mainstream gold rush. Cisco, for example, increased its $3 billion bid for Tandberg to roughly $3.4 billion in an attempt to entice investors who felt that the original bid wasn't enough. In addition, Cisco is expected to introduce a consumer-level videoconferencing product at CES this January, Businessweek reports.
Logitech meanwhile has opend up its purse and will pay $405 million for LifeSize Communications, a company which makes high-end HD videoconferencing equipment.
By themselves, each deal isn't particularly telling, but when looking at the overall picture, it appears imminent that videoconferencing is headed towards becoming a natural part of business, both big and small, with the cost of entry on its way to being removed as a barrier.
Videoconferencing firm Tandberg was all too happy to accept Cisco's $3 billion buyout offer back at the beginning of October, but at least two investment consulting companies say Cisco's bid undervalues the firm.
The only opinions that matter at this point are those of the Tandberg's shareholders, who have yet to approve the deal. Before the agreement can go through, owners of 90 percent of the company's shares have to give it the green light, and do so by the end of the day today. There's been talk that holders of 24 percent of Tandberg stock don't plan on signing off on the deal, and should that happen, Cisco has hinted it would walk away rather than raise its offer.
"We believe we are paying a fair price for a quality asset, and our offer comes recommended by the Tandberg Board of Directors," Cisco said in a prepared statement. "Further, Cisco's general approach to M&A activities is that no acquisition should be pursued or completed if it runs counter to the broader principles of prudence and financial fairness."
But not everyone agrees with Cisco's assessment. Consultants from Panta Capital and Scott & Associates contend that Tandberg's third quarter financial results beat the consensus estimates of analysts for revenue and profit, and Cisco's offer simply isn't enough.