Operability, affordability and flexibility will ensure web conferencing supremacy over telepresence still for long.
Is telepresence going to really undermine video conferencing in the future? Probably not. In facts, the most traditional technology to communicate remotely has more than one string to its bow, despite the pessimistic views of some experts.
First, video conferencing offers a wider range of deployment options and a richer set of tools to interact with participants. In facts, users can choose among web based solutions (like GoToWebinar), software to install (like the traditional Skype) , or on-premise server based solutions like, for example, R-HUB`s suite TurboMeeting (http://www.rhubcom.com) or Cisco’s servers. Each of these technologies has its pros and cons; the point to understand is that you have choice. And freedom is so much a matter of choices, after all.
In comparison, telepresence is quite rigid. It happens frequently that the software licensed to your company does not work, when it is interfaced with the software of another company. Plus, the graphic interfaces of telepresence software are simple, not to say very basic. The tools to interact with the audience are usually missing. This could become a real problem when the time comes to fulfil some simple but crucial tasks, like sharing documents or files.
To say it in other words, telepresence has a limited operability. It is true that it assures you a great sensorial experience that makes your virtual meetings look as they were real, but the price to pay in terms of missing functionalities is high.
Second point, telepresence costs an arm and a leg, usually hundreds more times than video conferencing. This makes it more a luxury toy for top-level multinational executives than a tool designed to help the man in the street. This is the reason why budget-conscious organizations still keep themselves stuck to the old, but practical, video conferencing.
Naturally, telepresence performances are better; though, consider that on the other side producers do their best to improve their video conferencing products. The outcome is that the difference between a good HD video conferencing solution, like R-HUB`s TurboMeeting, and telepresence has become thin. Unfortunately, this does not have to do with the price; while you can bring a R-HUB server home with less than $2000, the prices of the cheapest telepresence systems start from $60000.
The third drawback of telepresence is the lack of flexibility. An increasing number of users need to conferencing in from their mobiles today. This is the reason why a good conferencing system must offer a huge variety of options, from the outdated audio conference calls to the immersive experience assured by cutting-edge giant color monitors. Well, this is not possible with telepresence.
In conclusion, the blasted trend toward telepresence could be illusory in a world where the number of small organizations with tight budgets is increasing and mobile users as well. But the future is full of surprises; in next years, we will see what aces in their sleeves telepresence producers have to play.