VCON Telecommunications: This Time, It's PersonalBy Joshua Weinberger | Posted 2003-05-01 Print
VCON's revenues may have taken a beating, but its market share has held steady in the realm of personal (or desktop) equipment.
10535 Boyer Blvd., Suite 300
TICKER: VCTS.LN (No. 022021)
EXCHANGE: Nouveau Marché
EMPLOYEES: 135 worldwide
President, VCON, Inc.; Chief Marketing Officer
Responsible for all company operations throughout the Americas, he also oversees strategy and global marketing campaigns. Had been at VTEL.
VP, Sales, Americas
With over 20 years' experience in telecommunications, videoconferencing and IP sales, he joined VCON, Inc. in 2000. Had held management spots at Intel, Sony, Sprint and Siemens.
Software: Media Xchange Manager (administers multi-point networks); vPoint (software-based codec); and Voice First (a button adds video to an ongoing phone call). Hardware: ViGo (desktop appliance; runs over IP); Falcon (set-top); MediaConnect 6000 & 9000; and other PC-based group systems.
This Time, It's Personal
When Hal Noakes of the Cell Migration Consortium went looking three years ago, VCON "was the only player that had smoothly integrated data sharing, the only one that really had an IP offering." Noakes mailed each of his 40 members a ViGo—VCON's desktop unit—and they were functional in no time. ("Almost everybody likes it," he says of his typically impatient colleagues.) He has yet to max out his two Media Xchange Manager (MXM) licenses—including one for 100 seats. "We intend to expand, so we built in the scalability." Using MXM, he "can look directly at [a remote user's] settings. I can set global parameters or I can tweak individual endpoints—that saves me hours in support."
While Actua CEO Jennifer Flanagan also recalls the time impact, for her it was "the extensive amount of training required. But once we started using it, it was great—and the kids love it."
Still, VCON isn't necessarily everyone's first choice. For Access Systems America's Arnold Haan, a 2002 deployment went awry. Haan wanted to get the ViGo—but was overruled in favor of the older Cruiser 150. "It wasn't well planned—we bought antiquated, substandard hardware," he says.
The original unit "wasn't all that expensive," Haan says, "but they neglected to tell me that ... we had to buy a converter box. The [digital phone] line got put in, and didn't work." The software interface "looked like a child had written it—clunky, like an oversized Lego." Since his unit "didn't come with a decent microphone or speakers, sound quality is awful." As for the back end, "VCON will sell to you through the retailer and then offer no support—and the Web site is terrible." (Texas DHS's Gene Earley, on the other hand, has been "delighted with the service.") Eventually, Haan "got it installed and then it worked. It took about a month." Since then, Access has used the setup just three times and has even contemplated shutting it down.
Considering VCON's future lies in IP, any move away from digital phone lines may be good news.
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