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Google to compete with Cisco, unveils videoconferencing system

07 February 2014

Google Inc unveiled a videoconferencing system for businesses yesterday, the latest effort by the internet search giant to generate revenue from corporate customers.

The product would see Google compete with Cisco Systems Inc and Polycom Inc, that make the video conferencing systems used by many corporations.

Google, the world's largest internet search engine, earns most of its revenue from advertising, but the company also sells services to corporate customers, including special versions of its online apps such as email and word processing, as also Chromebook laptops aimed at business users.

Google is partnering with Asus, Hewlett-Packard and Dell to offer a specialised version of its Chromebox PC that came with videoconferencing gear, including a video camera and speakers.

The first Chromebox for meetings to be available would be made by Asus and will be available for $999, according to Google. There would also be a $250 annual service and management fee, though the sales price, would include this for the first year.

As many as 15 people would be able to participate in a Chromebox video conference with smartphones, tablets, laptops or other internet linked computers.

The product uses Google's free Hangouts video chat technology for connecting up to 15 separate video streams from users across different locations.

"These days, we often connect with each other from far-flung locations, coordinating time zones and dialing into conference calls from our phones," product management vice president Caesar Sengupta said in a blog post.

"Meetings need to catch up with the way we work -- they need to be face-to-face, easier to join, and available from anywhere and any device."

Chromebox-for-meetings would be released later this year in Australia, the UK, Canada, France, Japan, New Zealand, and Spain.

A high definition camera, a speaker with a microphone comes with the first model box, but a monitor would need to be provided.

Google has been working for the expansion of its business beyond online search and into businesses, with productivity and collaboration software offered as services in the internet cloud.

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