Cisco and H.265 demonstrated at Collaboration Partner Summit



I felt whilst the demo was good, in that it shows Cisco leading in this space, the actual demo kinda missed the point of H.265, at least in the first couple of years of its life.  Whilst H.265 will give you the same quality as H.264 at half the bandwidth, that will only really become relevant as general purpose computing hardware becomes capable of processing it.

It took around 4 years for general purpose hardware to start processing H.264 HD video after H.264 was ratified.  Even today, most vendor implementations of H.264 require a quad core processor, with Cisco using dual core.  So when we finally see the new standard, I don’t think its reasonable to expect general purpose hardware to be touching H.265 for at least a couple of years.  The point about bandwidth saving it its only really relevant to mass deployment of video, although it could be argued that it also reduces the risk of congestion when making calls via the internet.

Where H.265 will make an impact is in the new applications it will enable in the meeting room.  4K and 8K video will provide new experiences and new capabilities, and it is here that I expect Cisco to market this new capability when we finally see something from them.

Cisco wouldn’t be drawn on the question of what hardware the demo was running on, but I really wouldn’t expect it to be on the C-series.

Cisco Launches the TX9000

So what’s the big deal?

With recent stats showing poor Q1 performance at the top end of Cisco’s Telepresence offering, could the launch of this new product signal Cisco being out of step with market demands?  Or something else?

Elliot Gold’s Telespan recently reported a sharp decline in Cisco’s Immersive Telepresence numbers, both Quarter on Quarter, and Year on Year.  Now I’m pretty sure that the appetite for these systems is pretty limited, its a niche market, and the sales of these units are almost exclusively led by the manufacturer.  But, from my time observing this market, one thing for sure I know is that customer that are making big investments in technology such as Immersive Telepresence are very aware of product roadmaps.  I might be wrong, but I would not be surprised to see a resurgence in Cisco’s numbers post-TX 9000 launch, simply because in Q1, customers were holding off orders as they wait for the new product.

But in real terms, these Immersive TP systems actually contribute very little to the overall market, certainly in terms of numbers shipped, but also revenue (despite the very high ticket price!).

What’s most exciting about the TX9000 then is the research and development implications.  Just as we see technology first seen in Formula 1 begin to appear in every day motor vehicles later on, the innovation we see appearing in the TX9000 will also start to appear in multipurpose and personal systems as new products are release.

We saw this with the Tandberg C90 on its release, and I fully expect to see the same with the TX series as it develops and matures.  I also expect to see H.265 support on this hardware platform.

So my belief is rather than Cisco investing into an imploding niche market, what we’re seeing is a continuation of the same trend that made Tandberg so successful in the first place.  Innovation of new features and functionality at the very top end, (in the knowledge that the market for these technologies may be limited), but then the exploitation of these technologies across the product range later.