Cisco Splurge Shows Video Conferencing is Hot

Cisco (s csco) today offered to buy Tandberg, a Norwegian company that makes video conferencing equipment, for $3 billion in cash, a move that would give it a broader customer base, a bunch of legacy gear as well as a name in the teleconferencing market.

And why wouldn’t Cisco love video conferencing? It’s an application that requires a fast network and a lot of bandwidth, something the communications industry is increasingly able to provide, not just at the high end but even to average consumers. And with those network expansions, Cisco wins, because it provides the underlying equipment to the service providers, as well as the video conferencing hardware and software to tweak the experience. Cisco sees video as a $20 billion revenue opportunity.

See why Tandberg’s solution was so attractive to Cisco (think: middle management) in my full story over at GigaOM.

Cisco’s Big Bet on Consumer Telepresence

The video phone holds an iconic place in the American technology lore. From black-and-white science fiction movies to Jetsons’ cartoons, many of us were exposed to a futuristic vision of talking to far-flung friends and family through a video display. While consumers have embraced visual communication in the last few years, it hasn’t been with video phones. Instead, most consumers video chatting today do it on a computer using an integrated webcam and popular software like Skype. Given this reality, is it far-fetched to start thinking about visual communication on the living room TV?

Telepresence: State of the (Affordable) Art

We’ve written before about some of the big-ticket telepresence systems – and our skepticism about their place in the average web worker’s life. But between the super-expensive systems and the cheapest of webcams, there seems to be another level of telepresence emerging – systems that are good enough to be worth using, and not so hideously pricey as to be out of reach for everyone. A recent blog posting by Microsoft’s Scott Hanselman gives a glimpse of one man’s experiments in this area.

Now, working for Microsoft does give Hanselman a leg up that many web workers won’t have – he can assume, for example, that all of his coworkers are available via Microsoft Live Meeting. But reading through his account, I was struck by how much difference comparatively low-tech solutions are apparently making to his ability to work remotely (he’s in Portland and the rest of his team is in Seattle).

Read More about Telepresence: State of the (Affordable) Art

jkOnTheWii

Jkonthewii

After losing a bowling match to a seven-year old, I finally got around to using the WiFi connection in the Wii. No worries, the Wii invoked the "mercy rule" during our baseball game as I scored five runs to her none in the first inning. Anyway, the Opera browser works well but it takes a while to get used to the on-screen keyboard. What was interesting is that I was able to watch our video reviews on YouTube through Opera, which is to be expected but this opens up an opportunity for Nintendo. While we’re still waiting to watch YouTube on the AppleTV, you can watch it today on the Wii.

Comcast Doesn’t Know Why The Outage

If you are the leading broadband company in the planet – nearly 7 million customers – then it doesn’t look good when you say we don’t know what is the real reason why there has been an outage in your broadband network. Excuse me… what kind of a shop are you running? Philly.com reports Comcast spokeswoman as saying “We want our customers to know we are making every effort under the sun to address these issues.”

Though they don’t know exactly what the problem is, they know where it is, Comcast said: in a collection of computer hardware and software that directs Web surfers to their desired location. That system – called a domain name server – exists in two locations: Philadelphia and Denver.

The system was conked out for between three to six hours last Thursday night, and earlier on Tuesday. GigaOM readers are reporting more outages even now. “The very least we can do is withhold their outrageously high daily rates until they fix the problem and/or learn to shape up in the area of customer service,'” David W. Zuckerman, a research coordinator for an educational group in Baltimore, wrote in an e-mail to Associated Press.