These new devices, which support Zoom natively and will support more third-party apps in the future, offer users greater simplicity, and offer channel partners 3x the margins compared to selling a solution around a PC.
Today, at the Zoomtopia 2019 event, Poly has announced a reworking of the lower end of their video portfolio, with a new series of two all-in-one video conferencing bars. The Studio X family has two models, the X30, which is for smaller huddle rooms, and the X50, for small to midsize rooms with up to 12 participants. Both support the Zoom Rooms natively, as will the larger G7500 systems, which Poly introduced this summer.
For Poly – the brand that Plantronics chose to use going forward earlier this year following their 2018 acquisition of Polycom – the new offerings substantially change their portfolio.
“One change is that we now extend from the smallest up to largest room, to be a one-stop shop for any size of company,” said Tim Root, Poly’s VP Video Product Management, who came from the Polycom side. “Polycom was a little light on the low end in the past. Medium to small rooms were really our low point.”
Root said that the other big change is that the products now partner with a broader ecosystem.
“These products are a platform where we can run our traditional Polycom video apps – but also others. Zoom is the first of these, but also other partners will also be in that, including Bluejeans, Google, AWS, and Microsoft. So we will support any size room, any connection mode, and any partner working with us, and with a worldwide management scheme for the IT environments.”
Designing products for the huddle room became a top priority for Poly because this market is growing at a near-exponential growth rate.
“Huddle rooms are growing at a rate that’s just outstanding, with 33.2 million worldwide,” Root stated. “Analyst firm Frost and Sullivan says 77% of all room video meetings will be huddle rooms by 2023.”
At the same time, cloud video services have become ubiquitous in the SMB – with 132% Video-as-a-Service growth from 2018-2022.
“The majority of cloud video applications have had one architecture – a computer, with a PC and Mac driven experience, either through a BYOD model or a dedicated computer in the room with a controller,” Root said. “It’s perceived as low cost, and low complexity. The reality is that plugging in and setting it up can be hard, resulting in a terrible experience. Dedicated devices also have an issue with managing because of patching and updates.”
Poly has developed the Poly Studio X series to fill this void.
“With the Studio X series, the soundbar contains integrated speakers and microphones and processing to run the video application experience,” Root said. “All you need to bring in is a soundbar and the tablet – which is the controller. With the All-in-One design, you don’t have to bring anything into the room. There is a network connection and a power connection, and an HTMI connection to drive the display. Those three connections – that’s it.” The Poly TC8 touch PoE controller is also new, offering a native Zoom Rooms interface, high-performance, and a single network cable.
Native support for Zoom is the first time that such third-party support has been built into a Poly or Polycom device, but it won’t be the last.
“In addition to our Poly video app experience, we have added the Zoom native application as a secondary option, so you can buy a Poly soundbar running native Zoom software,” Root said. “One piece of hardware will run the Poly app, the Zoom app and other apps over time as we add support for other apps. Over time, you will have the ability to the change persona of the application, but that’s further out in time.”
Root said that there is a big demand for support for these native apps.
“The big driver in this case is customers who are changing models and selecting Zoom,” he said. “They want an all-in-one solution without computers. This lets you put the Zoom native application on the hardware for customers who want a hosted native zoom experience without the PC.”
In addition to the native Zoom support, the Studio X series features new Poly MeetingAI features designed to improve all aspects of the meeting experience that impact the senses.
“We have improved our audio capability, and totally reinvented noise suppression to block the sounds of keyboards, fans – anything other than speech,” Root said. “We have used AI to train the systems to grab speech out of the room and eliminate everything else.”
The video has also been trained, with rules to automatically focus on speakers.
“There is a 120 degree field of view to catch everyone in the huddle room, and we made major research investments in next-gen automotive framing to zoom in on the talker,” Root added.
The video is now 4K capable, up from the previous 1080p-based solutions. “Today, we do see some 4K, but it’s mainly in medicals,” Root said. “It’s more for future proofing.”
The X30 is for huddle rooms of 5-6 people, supports single monitor units and is 17 inches in length. The X50 is dual monitor, and is for small to midsize rooms of 9-12 participants. The X50 device is 30 inches long, with the extra space the result of its being stereo.
Root said that the price will be a head-turner.
“Today, $2500 is standard for this kind of device. The x30 is $2199, and that includes the controller. It’s $1699 without, if they have Trio already so wouldn’t need a controller. This is a ground changing price point – an exciting price point to get people into the market. The x50 is $3499, or $2999 without the controller.”
Poly starts taking orders in November and the plan is to ship in December.
“The channel will get channel markup on these full prices,” Root stressed. “They don’t make any money on PCs used in rooms, just on the USB connections. They will make 3x the amount of money on these products.”
Poly is also announcing that its modular G7500 video endpoint for mid- to large-sized conference rooms will also run the Zoom Rooms app natively.
“This is a high-end model we introduced last summer,” Root said. “The technology used in its development is what has been transitioned to these smaller models here. We have now transitioned our full video portfolio.”