back to article Verizon to 'sunset' Blue Jeans vidconf platform

Verizon has decided to send its BlueJeans video collaboration platform riding off into the sunset, as it were. The US telco acquired BlueJeans in April 2020 – a time when the $500 million price tag looked like a good deal as much of the world started to work from home while COVID-19's initial assault on humanity commenced. " …

  1. Insert sadsack pun here

    BlueJeans...I haven't heard that name in a long time...

    1. Dave559

      I've never heard of it, no wonder the cowboys are leading it off to behind the barn…

      There are at least two steps in having a winning product: one is to have a good quality product, and the second is to spread word about it existing (and, sadly, sometimes doing the second step loudly and repeatedly enough can be enough to overcome the fact that step one doesn't really apply to your product, but by then you will probably have hustled in some suckers).

      (And the name doesn't exactly say "videoconferencing platform": I know there are plenty of applications out there with stupid names, but this one makes particularly little sense.)

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Same here. I was hoping it was an actual blue jeans product, but sadly it was yet another "Production-Grade Live Streaming"

        I guess Verizon needs to tighten up and focus on their 0% diversity and Mr. Scrooge billing practices .

  2. ChoHag Silver badge

    > Vidchat networks aren't cheap to run

    ... when you have to rent the bandwidth off someone else.

    How did they fuck this up?

    1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      There's a bit more to it than bandwidth, especially for large groups. But the technology wasn't the problem: telcos have an inherent difficulty in selling such services to their competitors. So, while they love the idea of killing the OTT competitors, they'll never manage it.

    2. Captain Scarlet

      Simple charging to much, they wanted 4x more the year prior to their buyout for us so their equipment was mothballed (Taking up space waiting for the asset value to drop to zero)

    3. Bitbeisser

      With a technically subpar product. The web client is hamstringed and even with the desktop app, it can take easily 10-15min to actually connect.

  3. jimmy-o

    Streaming is a commodity.

    WebRTC is an open standard supported by every modern browser. Which means that anyone can spin up their own P2P chat service in a few hours, with the only costs being a dirt cheap ICE + relay + node.js server.

    I'd say that that would have a lot to do with the collapse of streaming services, once investors and customers realised this.

    1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

      Re: Streaming is a commodity.

      WebRTC is an open standard supported by every modern browser. Which means that anyone can spin up their own P2P chat service in a few hours, with the only costs being a dirt cheap ICE + relay + node.js server.

      Sure, and that can be ok-ish for ad-hoc video calls. Proper video conferencing might involve setting up dedicated video conferencing suites, effectively studios with decent lighting, sound, desk positioning, document camera.. And if it was a Cisco Telepresence solution, the approved Bob Ross paint schemes. Those were not cheap, and product placements in shows like 24 may have contributed to it's cost. I think the main challenge though was traditional teleco thinking and trying to offer it as a 'service'. So a bundle of charges and tarriffs for per-call and per-minute video conferencing, which then increased overheads for billing and BSS.

      Cisco used to pitch it this way as another revenue stream, even though they didn't really have the BSS stuff a telco and it's customers need and expect. It was also eye wateringly expensive for what it was, which was essentially some PCs, cameras and screens. Especially with all the support and maintenance charges loaded on top. Once properly set up, the results were very good. Problem is competitors realised that a telco's core business is pushing bits from A-B, per-application or service billing is generally a ball-ache, and in the end, video conferencing is just data. So started offering alternatives that just involved setting a CoS/QoS profile to prioritise conferencing and rent the tin with some support and consultancy. So it pretty much went the same way as being able to rent call bridges as a service. It's one of those apps that was hard to do in a good'ol switched voice/video world, but a whole lot easier to do in an IP world. Especially when there's a multitude of 'free' basic conferencing tools bundled into OSs or available as apps.

      So there's a slew of 'free' stuff which is good enough for most purposes, and cheaper alternatives available from other telcos or service providers. I'm just suprised it took so long for Verizon to kill it off. Over a decade ago I had to do the Cisco certified telepresence thing and there were some designers from Verizon and other telcos there. They seemed a little shocked when I said we weren't charging, and had no intention of charging per-stream.

    2. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      Re: Streaming is a commodity.

      If, by anyone, you mean a competent IT person, then yes. But can that be easily made to function with a company-wide contact list and joining multiple meetings between multiple people who only to click on the invitation to join ?

      Or is this a case of here's the URL, type it in your browser and add your userID to join ?

      Because that will not work well for most people, I'd wager.

    3. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: Streaming is a commodity.

      How about scale?

      It's also worth giving Google credit for pushing for WebRTC. Without it we'd probably still be a world with a couple of incompatible and expensive providers.

    4. Sceptic Tank Silver badge

      Re: Streaming is a commodity.

      What is the internal combustion engine for?

  4. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    $500 million

    Verizon spent half a billion on a video chat service I have never heard of - even during the pandemic.

    Did it make any money out of this acquisition, and if so, how much ?

    Because to me at least, it looks like money down the drain.

    1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: $500 million

      It was mainly a corporate service, though pricing was competitive. It was good enough, which meant it didn't really offer enough over the competition to be worth keeping. One thing it didn't have when we dumped it was an easy way to share files, ie. PDFs referred to in the discussion. Easy enough to implement but if you don't have it when the customers need it, you'll get dumped.

    2. Bitbeisser

      Re: $500 million

      Well, apparently, a lot of businesses were using it, as they are/were able to "brand" it to their own company.

      Rather questionable feature IMHO, but then some guys in suites are all about branding, rather than technical functionality....

  5. xeroks

    that's a shame

    We previously used Blue Jeans (with its amusing abbreviation) at work. It was actually pretty good. The audio in particular was (in later iterations) awesome, particularly when wearing stereo headphones. They'd really sorted out cleaning up the sound from all the attendee's mics, and had the tech to place them precisely in audio space. It was really impressive.

    1. Shred

      Re: that's a shame

      Bluejeans seemed to have the technology down pat, but the administration side of things was lacking.

      They forgot to bill us for a whole year’s use (a fairly large sum of money). We brought this to their attention, but BJN just couldn’t be bothered sending us an invoice…. You can’t do that too often without it impacting the bottom line.

      1. Captain Scarlet

        Re: that's a shame

        hmm probably sent the bill to customers like us

  6. Paul 14

    I've used BlueJeans, Teams, Zoom, WebEx, Chime, Meet and most of their predecessors.

    BlueJeans failed for 2 reasons - the biggest was poor scalability at the start of the pandemic. Whereas Zoom had a scalable hybrid-cloud software platform that could overnight meet the demand to go from 10s of thousands of meetings a week to 100s of thousands of meetings a week, BlueJeans just fell over and wasn't available for anyone, so people switched to Zoom and never came back.

    The other reason is more about what Zoom did best of all - first-time User Experience. Even though BlueJeans was technically pretty good once you were up and running, getting the software and getting onto a meeting was a faff for ordinary not-technical people. Zoom is where it is because in 2020 you could send a single link to your elderly relatives and get to talk to them.

    As ever UX - top quality, sustainable, consistent, scalable UX - is what makes or breaks.

    1. Timo

      You forgot "unloved"

      Article mentioned also-ran status, but your post captures why it made it unloved. A previous employer used it and the majority of the time the video feed would fail to work or would be irritatingly blocky, even if only between two people. The hassle factor was very high, the conference room features and functionality were aggravating at best.

      I think that employer probably got some early adopter silicon valley deal where Blue Jeans was buying customers with VC money. The platform never seemed to improve. Didn't take long to dump them for zoom.

  7. J. Cook Silver badge

    Businesses have picked up on Zoom fatigue – and the decrease in spontaneous collaboration it engenders – and responded by insisting their staff return to physical offices. And once a worker is in the office, they’re less likely to need a video chat.

    No, they'll still need to do video chat, because other team members might be remote working, or it's a vendor and a screen sharing session is needed, or, or....

    1. OhForF' Silver badge

      (Zoom) Meeting fatigue

      If any particular meeting is face to face in the office or online in video chat or even hybrid with some people in the meeting room and others dialing in doesn't make a difference.

      Too many meetings where you can't figure out why you're even invited(1) will cause fatigue as will too long meetings that have no clear agenda and meetings with too many participants.

      (1) If you ask why they want you to participate the answer is usually "Just in case a question comes up that only you can answer"

    2. ChoHag Silver badge

      Or they're spanding their mandatory two days in the other office, in order to be handy for meetings.

    3. NeilPost

      TBH BJ, Zoom, RingCentral, Webex, Teams actually make the instant meeting/collaboration more likely.

      The JFDI/collaborate before thinking problem.

      So you have unprepared people on video calls mulling over stuff they don’t understand trying to resolve on the fly. Whereas a little bit of background, and then maybe a call after you are prepared would be more productive.

  8. aerogems Silver badge

    Less Likely To Need Video Chat... Ha!

    At my current job, we all sit more or less in a row, with two people who sort of float around most of the day, but we all just individually join a video chat for a daily sync meeting even though I could literally lob a stress ball or something at any one of them since they're probably no more than 10-15ft away as the crow flies.

    If people have "zoom fatigue" I don't think the answer is to force people back into the office so much as to get rid of unnecessary meetings. We've all been there, stuck in some completely pointless meeting that goes absolutely nowhere, or a half-hour meeting that could have been handled in 1-2 emails. At least with video chat meetings I can sort of tune it out and go do some actual work, which is a lot harder to do when you're in a conference room with a bunch of other people.

    So far, the only benefits I've found to being back in the office are:

    1: Free AC

    2: Sometimes on the way to/from a conference room you can pick up some useful (though not strictly necessary for your job) tidbits and office gossip

    3: Possibly some free food/snacks depending on your employer

    That's basically it. Hardly worth the hassle of traffic, expense of gas, wasting all that time commuting, and having to deal with all the annoying habits of your coworkers.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Red Hat?

    That’s the Red Hat training courses stuffed then? Or at least it is in the UK.

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