Billion dollar Video Conferencing Market? Maybe, but you’d have to charge a jaw dropping $299,000 per fancy station. Wait, Cisco IS charging $299,000 per station!

This NYT Article (requires login) has Cisco seriously suggesting that companies are going to buy $299,000 video conferencing stations.   Wait…here’s the cheap version:  The basic TelePresence 1000 model, designed for one-on-one meetings, is priced at $79,000 per station.

Oh, OK then I’ll take TWO of those please.

Talk about out of touch and over technologized?  I suppose it’s possible that a brilliant sales effort will convince upper management of the big companies that this is worth it and that Cisco’s fancy pants model is the only way to go.  It’s certainly also true that even this exhorbitant cost for the units pales in comparison to sending people around in airplanes and putting them up in hotels (well, actually you can buy a lot of plane tix for $299,000 but true that if everybody actually used this approach, which has been around for many years now, it would save money over travel).

My point?  This totally misses the boat on how to get work done.   Efficient people use email and, if really needed and they like it they call on phones.  If they like to see people they can use existing, virtually free computer cam conferencing.

Efficient people also meet each other in real time and real space to have a beer or dinner and connect.  That’s a primate thing and it’s condusive to good biz, but can’t be replicated via even a high definition TV environment.   Nope, not even a $299,000 one.

Danny I was hoping for more – how about a Search UNconference?

I don’t know Danny Sullivan personally aside from comments at his blog and forums, but all reports say he’s a fine guy and easily one of the top search specialists in the world.

When it looked like Danny would be leaving Search Engine Strategies earlier in the year I was optimistic that he might break those of us in the publishing and search marketing fields out of the ‘same old speakers’ and ‘same old pitches’ one tends to hear at the two main search conferences: SES and WebmasterWorld’s “PubCon”.   However he’s not leaving yet, so I’m happy for him I guess but disappointed he won’t come up with something new.

I think many would agree that Danny’s the guy who could bring something really new and powerful to the growing, global, search marketing human (and information) network. Something that would capture the spirit of “Web 2.0” which is far more collaborative, information rich, virtual, and unstructured than the internet of the 1990s.   Also, there are a HUGE number of case studies now that reflect all the common problems websites have.  Simply examining all these in a conference environment would be far more helpful than listening to yet another SEO guy talk about how he gamed Google’s Algo five years ago.

I don’t want to be too critical of SES and WMW because these are good conferences all things considered. However after attending some UNconferences such as MashupCamp I’m convinced that the UNconference format (or things like Yahoo’s Hack Day) are vastly superior to the old standard where speakers, often with less experience than many in the audience, struggle to speak clearly and make with their weak powerpoint presentations relevant.

UNconferences, like Startup Camp in a few weeks, tend to unleash the power of the audience and ironically the lack of structure creates far more cohesive sessions. I think this is because your brain goes into active vs passive mode.

So Danny after you make your deserved big bucks back at SES over the next year, how about shaking things up for 2007?