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4/16/2012
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InterCall Partnership Boosts Blue Jeans' Videoconferencing

Phone conferencing giant InterCall will resell Blue Jeans' service as an easy way to set up impromptu video calls that bridge high-end equipment with consumer options like Skype.


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In its quest to make videoconferencing as easy as audioconferencing, Blue Jeans network is getting a boost from audioconferencing giant InterCall.

Introduced Monday, InterCall videoconferencing powered by Blue Jeans works on the same model as setting up a phone conference, where all locations dial into the service at the same time to be connected. Blue Jeans is best known for bridging room-based videoconference services with consumer options like Skype and Google Talk, and doing it on an impromptu basis.

"It's great to have the largest audioconferencing service offering Blue Jeans as the videoconferencing equivalent," said Stu Aaron, chief commercial officer at Blue Jeans. "Our service was modeled on the traditional audioconference bridge everyone knows and loves."

Positioning itself as a disruptive player in the industry, Blue Jeans recently introduced "MCU-killer" pricing of $299 per port per month, as an alternative to the expense of owning and maintaining a multipoint control unit on your own network. In videoconferencing, MCUs mix the video feeds from multiple locations so that each location gets the appropriate output showing the other participants arrayed across sections of the screen. Blue Jeans shifts that function from an on-premises device to a more cost-effective cloud service.

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The InterCall relationship gives Blue Jeans "400 additional feet on the street, from the InterCall sales team," Aaron said. Because InterCall has customer relationships with most of the world's largest companies, Blue Jeans now wins an introduction from a vendor those firms already know and trust, he said.

"I really view this as a great opportunity to bring video to the masses," said Robert Bellmar, senior vice president for conferencing and collaboration at InterCall. "It lets videoconferencing users who have been operating in closed ecosystems get the best value out of that technology."

InterCall already has a series of "best-of-breed" partnerships with videoconferencing players like Cisco and Polycom, reselling their equipment with associated services, according to Bellmar. By working with Blue Jeans, he hopes to drive up the utilization of video. "On a busy day, we will have 2 million people using audio conferencing and a heck of a lot less using video," he said. "I see this as a nice way to augment what we already do in the audio space."

When people participate in a phone conference, it doesn't matter what brand of phone they are using; they just need to call the same number, Bellmar said. Blue Jeans approaches that level of simplicity in that no special software is required to enter a conference beyond the level of Skype, but people with more specialized equipment can still take advantage of it. Rather than being limited to connecting a few specially equipped locations within the organization, videoconferencing users can include more of their employees and start doing videoconferences with their customers, said Bellmar.

Bellmar said he anticipates about 75% of the sales for this service to come from existing InterCall customers adding it as an option to their plans, while the remainder will be "new doors this opens for us." Large enterprises that might not be comfortable signing up with a startup like Blue Jeans should feel better about subscribing through InterCall because "we kind of vetted it for them," said Bellmar.

Follow David F. Carr on Twitter @davidfcarr. The BrainYard is @thebyard and facebook.com/thebyard

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