The announcement today of Cisco's offer of $3 billion to buy the video conferencing company Tandberg could potentially have significant implications in the lecture capture market.
Tandberg's product lineup was built for video conferencing. Tandberg's products range from Telepresence systems to high-end HD conferencing gear. Additionally, Tandberg sells a PC based mobile video conferencing system called Movi.
This product lineup, however, contains all the parts necessary for a robust and flexible lecture capture system. Tandberg has well developed management software and appliances for encoding, management, and distribution. Cisco may be purchasing Tandberg to gain scale in the video conferencing space (as well as to offer integrated networking gear and services that video conferencing depends), but they are also collecting all the pieces necessary to provide presentation and lecture recording.
Lecture and presentation capture will be as important in the higher education space as video conferencing is in the enterprise (and increasingly small business) sectors. Tools, platforms and services to easily record campus activity - whether this activity is a regular lecture, an invited speaker, or a voice-over recording made from a professors desk - are poised to become ubiquitous on campus. Students will expect the ability to time shift their learning. Faculty will come to understand that recorded presentations offer the potential to free class time for discussion and debate, as students escape the pressure of having to take exhaustive notes during the lecture. Parents will look for schools that record lectures as an aid to their child's learning, as students with diverse learning style can take advantage of recorded classes to review materials at their own pace.
The higher education market is an important one for Cisco. Colleges and universities have historically been out front in providing fast wired (and wireless) connections through their community. As more of campus life is recorded and shared the role of the campus network, and its networking gear, will only grow in importance. The ability to integrate video conferencing (which higher education leaders will also be utilizing to a greater degree along with everyone else) with presentation and lecture capture may offer a compelling value proposition. Campuses could effectively get two services (lecture capture and video conferencing) for the cost and complexity of one.
I'm not sure if lecture/presentation capture entered at all into Cisco's calculus in making the Tandberg offer. I sort of doubt it did, given that Tandberg is not really in this space now. However, I could see further Cisco acquisitions down the road of pure lecture capture companies such as Tegrity or Echo 360. Cisco is sitting on $35 billion in cash and has been on an acquisition spree. Either of these companies could fit very well with Tandberg's existing solutions and would provide Cisco with an opportunity to up-sell video conferencing and network equipment.
What do you think? Do you see a future in which Cisco gets into the lecture/presentation capture business?