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Cisco unveils system for videoconferencing

October 24, 2006|From Bloomberg News

Cisco Systems Inc. on Monday unveiled a videoconferencing system that transmits life-size images, setting up a rivalry with Hewlett-Packard Co.

The TelePresence Meeting system, designed to enable companies with hundreds of employees and multiple offices to have face-to-face meetings, will boost customers' productivity and reduce travel costs, said Marthin De Beer, a Cisco vice president. The product may reach annual sales of $1 billion in five to seven years, he said.

The move pits San Jose-based Cisco against Hewlett-Packard, which introduced similar technology last year.

After spending two years on TelePresence and showing it to 200 potential customers, Chief Development Officer Charles Giancarlo said the market might be among the company's fastest-growing.

Cisco will begin delivering two versions of TelePresence in December. The larger system is designed for meetings of as many as 12 people and costs $299,000, including furniture. A smaller version, with one screen instead of three, sells for $79,000.

Steven Spielberg's cinematographer, Janusz Kaminski, was consulted on the project to improve its quality. Among those to preview the system were President Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who separately visited Cisco Chief Executive John Chambers this year.

Palo Alto, Calif.-based Hewlett-Packard in December introduced its Halo Collaboration Studio, which it designed with DreamWorks Animation SKG Inc. The $425,000 system has 11 customers, including microchip maker Advanced Micro Devices Inc. and soft-drink company PepsiCo Inc.

Cisco shares fell 12 cents to $24.43 on Monday.

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