Global IP Solutions Coming Back to Life: Driving the Desktop Video Space

Global IP Solutions LogoGlobal IP Solutions today announced a white paper on Desktop Video Conferencing, providing a background for their video infrastructure technology that has the potential to make video calling and video conferencing available to a much broader user base beyond Skype’s (even though it is quite large) and SightSpeed.

Many of you will recall that Skype’s original voice engine came from Global IP Solutions (formerly Global IP Sound) and contributed to Skype’s initial adoption through both its ease of use and voice quality. In April 2006, Skype acquired Camino Networks whose voice engine provided improved features such as echo cancellation. Camino’s President and CEO was Jonathan Christensen, Skype’s current General Manager for Audio and Video.

Global IP Sound went on to supply their voice engine to other players, such as Oracle and Yahoo but, as a company, they have been struggling; their most recent quarterly report demonstrated the extent of the revenue drop-off after loss of the Skype royalties.

This past April, GIPS announced the appointment of a new CEO, Emerick Woods (see full disclosure below). Since joining GIPS Emerick has led a reorganization of the company that included dropping their professional services offerings due to not only lackluster revenue but also the channel conflicts that operation created for their core audio and video infrastructure technology business. They have also closed a Tokyo office and settled outstanding customer lawsuits, including one with Skype where GIPS’ previous claims were denied in an arbitration resolution. As indicated in this interview with iLocus, they are moving to extend their customer base for their Voice Engine product line. As an initial move in August there was the announcement of Voice Engine for iPhone accompanied by a white paper.

In my interview with Emerick at that time, he pointed out that, while GIPS offers, through its various Voice Engine products, a total solution linking the Internet inbound/outbound connection to the user’s microphone/speakers, customers can also customize the voice engine, particularly when it comes to codecs. Customers can use either the GIPS codecs available with the voice engine or any other standard codec. Another feature he emphasized was their independence from operating system restraints and their support for various mobile platforms.

GIPS Voice Engine Schematic

One additional focus has been on working with their current customer base to build stronger customer relationships that can extend their various Global IP Solutions implementations. And, going forward, GIPS will be investing in innovation with video as a key focus.

Today GIPS released a Desktop Video Conferencing (DVC) white paper, authored by analyst Jon Arnold, outlining “the value proposition behind desktop video conferencing, especially in conjunction with other solutions, such as telepresence. Supporting this is an analysis of the trends that create the momentum we believe will make desktop video conferencing as ubiquitous as PCs themselves, and even mobile phones in the years to come.”

Jon talks about the spectrum of video conferencing solutions from telepresence systems employing large “real life” HD video displays, such as offered by Cisco and Polycom, to boardroom systems that provide the basics of teleconferencing via standard display monitors, to desktop conferencing where the user does not have to leave his/her desk to participate in a video conversation.

In short, compared to other video conferencing solutions, the value proposition for DVC is based on three variables: quality, cost and flexibility. Today’s DVC solutions can deliver a high-quality experience, at an affordable price point, and across a wide variety of environments. Aside from complementing the other types of video conferencing solutions, DVC can be deployed in a host of scenarios that are simply not practical any other way.

Jon goes on to provide tables comparing the three scenarios and then goes into details on potential market size for DVC as well as enabling trends that will help provide an appropriate infrastructure for DVC. On a SquawkBox conference call this morning (recording will be linked once posted) we discussed one aspect: support for HD video. Its minimum 720p resolution will require higher bandwidth upload speeds (> 1.5 Mbps) that I have been told will be coming to Rogers Internet next year with an implementation of the DOCSIS 3 infrastructure and probably to other cable Internet services; recall that the widespread availability of broadband Internet was one factor in the rapid adoption of Skype back at its launch in 2003.

He then goes on to discuss the complexities of the providing and adopting the underlying technologies starting with video quality. Synchronization of audio and video, a consistent user experience, the variability of DVC end point configurations and support for a wide range of camera devices are other factors.

And, now for the commercial: GIPS is offering four products, Voice Engine and Video Engine for the PC client side and Voice Conference Engine and Video Conference Engine for the server side, that will allow ready embedding of desktop video conferencing into their customers’ services. Basically GIPS is providing platforms that allow developers, enterprises, service providers and end users to have a high quality DVC experience. Jon concludes:

With GIPS, they have a complete engine that handles all the complexities of IP communications, and with that, a clear path for allowing DVC to reach its full potential, not just at the desktop, but in the mobile world as well.

GIPS has put up two demonstration videos for comparison: one “Traditional Video Conference” and the other “Video Conference Using Global IP Solutions”.

The only current customers using these services are Oracle and Baidu, the Chinese portal; however, discussions are being carried out with several prospective customers, probably including many in their current customer Most interesting is their potential for mobile video; the only North American carrier supporting video to date has been Rogers; however, its most obvious problem is finding other users who can take video calls. Introduction of the Nokia N95 8GB was supposed to expand the video calling-enabled user community; however, iPhone and BlackBerry Bold have stolen the 3G phone market.

Skype’s High Quality Video, SightSpeed’s acquisition yesterday by Logitech, Qik on Blackberry and Nokia N-Series combined with news of GIPS platform offerings are all precursors to a much broader adoption of user-friendly video in both business and personal conversations in the future. (Yes, we all know users have been looking for Skype video conferencing; when?)

Skype Journal: On2 Powers Skype High Quality Video

Full disclosure: GIPS CEO Emerick Woods was the Vice-President, Internet of Quarterdeck Corporation in the mid-1990’s with whom I worked on several business development projects involving partnerships with ISP’s of the time. Over the past 12 years, Emerick, in his capacity as CEO of several startups, which have gone on to be sold, has hired the author at various times for his business development services. The author, however, has no business relationship with Global IP Sound. One more clarification: Emerick has the same initials as a well known Tiger and loves golf just as much.

Tags: Global IP Solutions, GIPS, Emerick Woods, Jon Arnold, Skype High Quality Video, Polycom, Cisco, Nokia, BlackBerry, Qik.com, Logitech, video conferencing, video calling, , Jonathan Christensen, Desktop Video Conferencing, Voice Engine, Video Engine

About Jim Courtney

Bringing over thirty years' experience in the sales, marketing and management of cutting edge technology businesses.

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