Video-Communication and FTTH

On Friday I had a most interesting breakfast with Chris Herot, Chief Product Officer at VSee (you can read his account of our breakfast here) and that has got me to thinking (even more than before, if at all possible) about the role of video communications in next generation services.

VSee offers a video communication servvice comparable to Skype but with two major differences: first, it is secure, and second it integrates application sharing. I'm sure there are other differences, but that's what I understood to be the salient differences. But first let me give you a quick introduction about VSee; companies hate it when their products are described in relation to another (competing) product but for the purpose of simplicity I am nonetheless going to do that and hope that Chris doesn't mind too much. VSee's solution is comparable to Skype with two notable exceptions:

  • the solution is secure and therefore fit for business video-communications
  • the interface integrates application sharing (any application)

VSee currently sells its solutions either in dedicated or managed modes to large bussinesses and government agencies around the world. Their business model is therefore either a "high" price for a dedicated server or a "low" price per user.

As you know from my previous posts on the matter, I firmly believe that video-communications are not only enabled by the emergence of abundant (and symmetric) bandwidth but that they represent a key differentiator for FTTH services and as such will represent a vital component of mass adoption. For that to happen, however, these services need to migrate from the PC to the TV.

The TV is still, by and large, controlled by telcos or cablecos through the set-top box, although that will not last: in between connected game consoles and the next generation of ethernet enabled TVs already emerging in Japan, telcos have a very short window of opportunity to establish themselves as the providers of TV to TV video communication.

And yet as far as I can see, nothing is happening there. I suspect some service providers (like Free or Lyse) of keeping their cards close to the chest when it comes to video communication, but there's no evidence that anyone is really furthering this line of thinking.

The discussion with Chris on Friday revolved around the role that companies such as VSee could play as solution vendors to the telcos. The problem is that telcos of course are a very hard channel to work for any vendor, let alone a comparatively small company like VSee. Furthermore, riding an open and interoperable system over closed telco networks is always an issue.

And yet, I can't help but think that there is an opportunity for companies such as VSee, and that, assuming the telco channel fails maybe Nintendo and Sony might be interesting alternatives…