ūmi, the high-powered and ridiculously expensive video chatting service from Cisco, is getting a bit of a price drop. We were initially impressed with the quality at the announcement, but the $600 price tag was too high, to say nothing of the ridiculous $25/month plan that used a connection you were already paying for.
Well, either Cisco wildly overestimated the price people would pay for this thing, or… no, that’s pretty much the only option. At any rate, the price is coming down and there’s a new “cheaper” version.
The new ūmi 720 is essentially the same product but at 720p instead of 1080p. That’s nice, because the original needed something like a constant 5-megabit connection to stay at full quality, and even during the demos I noticed some glitches. With luck this 720p service is a little more reliable; it only requires 1.5 megabits. The new hardware costs $400. The price of the old 1080p rig is now $500.
The service itself has been lowered to $100/year or $10/month. It’s a good deal compared to the previous price, but really, why you would pay for a service that’s available for free elsewhere is beyond me. In fact, Cisco is releasing a PC version of their ūmi Connect video software for PCs this summer! Why buy a $400 webcam? Microsoft’s 1080p Lifecam Studio is sitting here on my monitor, and it can do solid high-def video chatting over a number of services. It costs $100.
Whoever the target market is for this service, I’m sure they’ll be overjoyed at this price drop. Or they won’t notice, because the target market is people who have too much money to begin with.