Consumer Telepresence Services in Asia to Grow Amid Difficulties

Say “telepresence” and you will most likely think it’s a service more oriented toward the enterprise rather than the home. But if you’re using Skype, IM or other similar messaging services, these are actually telepresence services already, giving end-users access through a variety of devices like PCs and mobile phones. Such services are seen to boom in Asia in the next few years.

In this Sept. 1, 2009 file photo, Ed Ho, right, demonstrates the online telecommunications service Skype with friend Daren Tsui, on screen, at Ho's home in Palo Alto, Calif. Skype is best known for free computer-to-computer voice and video chatting, but you can make and receive phone calls using this software as well. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma, file)

According to Forrester Research, telepresence started out in the enterprise sector, but is gaining ground in the consumer market in the Asia Pacific region, particuarly with the popularity of services like Skype and other similar services.

It may be noted that big-brand offerings like Cisco’s Umi telepresence service failed to get enough users in the consumer market due to the high prices. However, services like Skype have recently partnered with network providers for the installation of the service on devices like set-top cable boxes and smart TVs. This way, installation is easier for the end-user.”

Telepresence might not be for everyone, but it has found a niche in the likes of home-based healthcare. Likewise, users who telecommute or do business from home are also found to be interested in being able to video-conference with colleagues and business contacts. It’s a matter of telcos being able to provide adequate bandwidth and the right tools.

Speaking for Forrester, analyst Henry Dewing expects “mobile and home-based video calling or videoconferencing to become a normal part of the communications toolkit for mobile and executive-level information workers within the next three to five years.”

As such, telepresence technologies are not just for enterprises. These are now gaining traction among home users.