BroadSoft Launches Hosted Video with Tandberg

Can't help but notice there's a trend happening here. Last week I was briefed on this news before it came out, but wasn't able to blog about it until today. Nothing earth-shattering here, but definitely a continuation of a theme that I'm happy to see unfolding. On Friday, BroadSoft announced a partner solution with Tandberg for a hosted video communications offering for the SMB market. BroadSoft provides the hosted services platform via BroadWorks, and Tandberg provides the endpoint in the form of the E20 video phone.

It's a good way for both companies to extend market reach. Tandberg has a full line of video, ranging from the E20 desk phone to the immersive MXP telepresence and HD solutions. They also have Movi, a PC-based video application, but that's not tied in with the BroadSoft news (but it's coming). The hosted service allows Tandberg to ride a more complete offering to market, and opens the door for businesses to scale up from desktop video to the larger systems. They're fighting Polycom every step of the way, and they need partnerships like this to get beyond being just a hardware or endpoint solution.

BroadSoft gets more market traction by adding another top tier video partner to their stable. They already partner with LifeSize and Polycom, and last week had a nice announcement with the latter for their VVX1500 media phone.

Taking this back a step or two, the BroadSoft/Tandberg news comes on the heels of Vidtel's announcement last week about their entry into the SMB video telephony market - which BroadSoft had a hand in. And going back a bit further, desktop video pioneer SightSpeed was acquired by Logitech in November.

Sure looks like a trend to me, and I have no doubt we'll be hearing more news on the video telephony front from both startups and majors in due time. Overall, the timing definitely seems right - video technology is good enough now, bandwidth is affordable, people are more accepting of video, and we now have affordable, practical solutions.

No doubt video can be a great proxy for traveling to meetings, and SMBs will be very receptive to saving money. The only hitch is that you need to spend some money to save this money. The Tandberg phones won't be cheap, so the VARs and service providers pitching hosted video will have to be creative. This is a very cost-conscious market, and I'd have to say that the marketing angle will be every bit as important as the technology story. I think that's largely true for most IP communications offerings, but particularly here where you need the hardware to make it work.