Live At Cisco's SF Event; New Video Calling Hardware Rumored

I’m in San Francisco, at the Cisco press conference where the connectivity giant is rumored to be showing off a new video calling tool — likely one that sits on top of your TV. Cisco already has such solutions in place for enterprise, but their growing interest in the consumer space, and the increasing numbers of internet-connected TVs, have likely inspired them to improve existing video calling solutions.

Early rumors put pricing anywhere from $200 (for an integrated camera and mic) to $600 (perhaps with integrated tablet or other remote hardware), and disagree on the topic of monthly fees. Only the market will be able to determine whether people will want to pay an extra $30 per month on top of their internet, phone, and mobile subscriptions.

Skype isn’t amused, and has been extremely vocal in pooh-poohing Cisco’s apparent plans. We’ll soon see. Cisco wants to make this kind of equipment as ubiquitous as TVs themselves, but that only happens with a convergence of design, price, and market readiness. And despite there being few home theater-level video calling devices, things like Skype and Facetime are becoming very popular and will only grow as the devices supporting them multiply.

Logitech’s Google TV-integrated calling (to be announced today, it is said) must also be considered. There really is a major conflict brewing, as if one company establishes a de facto standard for home video calling, like Apple did for digital music with the iPod, they stand to make billions.

I’m outside in a sort of cage with the other press, and have scammed my way into the wi-fi. They’re opening the doors shortly, and the announcement is expected to start at 9:30. We’ll post the new info as soon as it’s available, and with luck I’ll have a hands-on before you finish your second cup of coffee.

Update: There appears to be a two-part solution on top of a big TV here, though it’s still covered up. There’s a device up on top of the TV, about 20 inches wide, and a sort of set-top box looking thing below that, about the size of a small DVD player. So it does appear to be a stationary, TV-based solution.