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Video conferencing in Thirdlane Connect

Posted by thirdlane on Tue, 06/09/2020

How many of you or your customers are missing the group video conferencing feature in Thirdlane Connect?

Would you vote for bringing it back or there are other features you see as more urgent - like operator panel, enhanced call center, etc?

On a separate note - how many of your customers use web version of Connect vs the desktop versions? What if we abandoned it to focus on desktop and mobile?

Feel free to post here or write to me privately.

Submitted by chrisc@accents… on Wed, 06/10/2020 Permalink

The group video did not previously work at all and until it functions correctly it definitely should be disabled. Once more than two people joined the video everything would freeze and completely stop working. I would like to see group video work correctly as many competitors offer it and it is becoming a "standard" feature of many UCaaS platforms. Until that time if it doesn't work it shouldn't be a part of the system.

The web version of Connect is valuable to many of our customers and is a very good feature, it allows a zero download user operation of the system. In today's world this is crucial, many apps can be ran in a browser and do not require a download, including our competitors. Removing the web browser version of Connect would be a step backwards very similar to if not worse than when visual voicemail was recently removed for a short period of time.

Submitted by biznet on Thu, 06/11/2020 Permalink

We've had few customers moving to Microsoft Teams which has integrated telco/PSTN gateway offering add on for $12 / mth / user.. this is cheaper than I can offer PSTN connections/phone service to them. They like the video conf, desktop sharing etc for group meetings etc. So a working Teleconf system would be great, although I realize that would be a difficult task for Thirdlane.

I think Google may have something Similar also.

On the web Connect vs the desktop app, I don't think it matters, but I'd really like to see the mobile versions (esp the Andriod side) get more stable and not be foobared by TL and MTE version updates.

All of this becomes even more valuable given the number of new remote users due to the Virus issue.

Submitted by thirdlane on Fri, 06/12/2020 Permalink

Hi all,

Thanks for the feedback and suggestions. I'd like to explain why we asked the questions in the first place.

It goes without saying that offering all the features, on all the platforms, to all the service providers with different requirements, plus quickly reacting to requirements' changes would be ideal. The reality is - we have to choose what is most important - that is why I started this topic.

Mobile environments change. Browser support for WebRTC changes all the time - it is difficult. It is very unfortunate that it's been like this for the last 5 years - but that is what it is, and we've taken it on ourselves to deal with it. I totally understand what would be perfect - i.e. zero installation is great - but to the best of my knowledge, even Zoom does not offer a "simple" web video application, or WebRTC. Trade off is between the cost, features and other options - please let us know what is most important for you.

As far as the topic of video conferencing offered by competitors - there are products by major players (Zoom, Google, Amazon, Microsoft, Cisco, Ring Central, and a few others), and a few companies that follow a path of rebranding Jitsi Meet - which near everyone (including Sangoma and 8x8 who is now working with the Jitsi team) deployed by simply changing the name and without adding much of real value (because it is actually not so easy to do). I am sure these companies are working on changing that and doing more - but so far it is what it is.

What we did in the past, and what we stopped providing temporarily (as we did not want a solution that was not up to our standards), was more than rebranding, so I am asking - do you need a real integrated audio/video conferencing solution and are you ready to support the development of such a solution? If so - contact me privately. Doing this right will be a serious and costly effort - we need real partners.

Our goal is to offer the best value for you - service provider customers. I'd like to hear from you to be sure that we accomplished that, and that we don't have to change our focus.

Submitted by netriplex on Fri, 06/12/2020 Permalink

My personal feeling has been the same as it has been all along. Every application and piece of software needs to have a porpoise and it needs to perform that purpose WELL and it must be able to CONSISTENTLY COMPETE in the market space that it is trying to perform well in.

As I see it, Thirdlane is a small business (possibly very small), attempting to compete against massively capitalized companies like Microsoft, Google, Zoom, et al for video conferencing features which as you stated require massive development efforts is a compete waste of time unless Thirdlane is bringing on a venture capital firm to finance a development team of 50+ programmers. If you do not do that, someone might "sponsor" a video conferencing app that you are able to develop and roll out in 3-6 months that is remotely on par with the current offerings from the big boys only to be way behind again 3-6 months later as their development teams are simply way too much larger than Thirdlane's for Thirdlane to try to compete in a market segment that requires so much development effort.

While these major companies are fighting it out specifically in that space, Thirdlane needs to find a niche solution that they are reasonable able to maintain an acceptable development pace with the size of their development team. With that focus, Thirdlane can once again make a compelling offering to service providers at a compelling price point to allow their service providers to be able to sell the product. The major players are rolling out new features virtually every month, whereas Thirdlane is pushing out new versions maybe twice a year if not less as you are spreading your resources too thin trying to compete on every level.

This will be a losing battle if Thirdlane does not focus on a market segment that it can compete in, develop and deploy rapidly in that segment, and execute well in that segment (start by correcting the backwards capability issues that so many complain about which is poor execution). Thirdlane was such a compelling product 10 years ago because it practically invented the market segment and did things no other product on the market was able to do. To survive in the world of massive Venture capital backed software development, it either needs to join them with VC money or it needs to find that niche again and do things other products do not do and maintain that advantage in that market segment.

With that said, to directly address your question, ditch video (or just rebrand Jitsu to offer something), focus on what they don't have and what Thirdlane could potentially be first to market with. External SMS texting, operator panel, enhanced call center functionality at market beating pricing (this will never be a focus area of a video conferencing product).

Submitted by mattdarnell on Fri, 06/12/2020 Permalink

I think there is still a wide line between telecom and group meetings. Our customers have no issue using us for every day telephony and Zoom/Meet for meetings.

Bolting on a 3rd party video app would be no issue to us.

Submitted by matthewmalk248 on Thu, 08/20/2020 Permalink

I personally don't see a reason for Connect to offer video conferencing when there are so many readily available free options that people use. I would focus on the core functionality of the Connect App as it stands and keeping it stable and compatible as mobile OS updates get released.