By Corey Moss

First read this news/UC&C announcement from this morning.

The three top bullet-points from the announcement:

  • On 25th anniversary of the iconic three-legged phone, Polycom unveils the Polycom Trio™ 8500, the new standard in conference performance for mid-sized conference rooms
  • Upgraded video capabilities to Polycom Trio™ 8800 improves larger conference room meeting experience
  • Introducing Polycom® VoxBox, a compact and portable speakerphone for team and personal spaces

It’s actually that first one that’s the main focus here, the three-legged phone also referred to as the “starphone” – the Polycom SoundStation, the perfect device for audio conferencing in a mid-sized conference room. I sold many of them in my time in commercial integration sales.

SoundStation-e1470258230712

For those who may not be familiar with the SoundStation, notice the star shape of the phone. The technology and the story behind it is simply amazing. In fact, last year around this time I talked to the co-creator of the SoundStation, who is also the Co-Founder and Chief Technology Evangelist of Polycom, Jeff Rodman.

In a story entitled How I Founded a $2 Billion Company with a 95 Cent Book from RadioShack, Jeff Rodman talks about a day in 1991 that ultimately changed his life with a purchase of a book at that once famous ultimate electronics store, or as he called it an “inspirational stomping ground,” that led to the creation of a well-known audio conferencing device and eventually the company we know today as a leader in the UC&C industry.

In this conversation that I had with Jeff, we talked about his beginnings in the industry, this story and the development of the SoundStation, the founding of Polycom (including the video side), his thoughts on the current state and future of collaboration and more. He turned things around a bit by asking me a question about my sales days and specifically about the SoundStation, why I thought it sold so well, and I gave Jeff my answer. In my estimation, the SoundStation was not just the hot product for table top audio conferencing, it was the solution where many concluded that it was not only aesthetically pleasing to look at, “it just worked.” Not complicated at all, set it on the table, plug it in and call out. Simple. There were certainly other solutions and methods for audio conferencing, from the simple to the more complex, for the larger conference room or board room. The SoundStation was the solution that just worked for the small (there was no such thing as “huddle”) to mid-sized room table top scenario.

SoundStation early concept sketch
One of the early concept sketches of the SoundStation (you can see others in the Wired article) – provided by Polycom.

Nowadays we have a plethora of solutions for both audio and video conferencing (back in the day the choice was mainly Tandberg or Polycom of course), however with important legacy communication technology such as the SoundStation, Polycom has certainly gained the trust of many in the end user world, which is why I believe this new solution, the Polycom Trio 8500, along with the other solutions, will see mass popularity.

I’ll never forget my experiences with the SoundStation, and as for my conversation with Jeff Rodman, here it is. There will be an upcoming conversation as well with Jeff to follow up this story.

 

(Note: this is a recording from August 2016. There is a reference to Ashan Willy, he was the former Sr. VP of Worldwide Systems Engineering and Product Management for Polycom). 

Me at Barco

With over 20 years in audio visual integration and IT/computer sales and consulting, Corey Moss is the owner of Convergent AV. Corey writes for the publication and hosts/produces podcasts – The AV Life, Convergent Tech Talk and Making a Marketer. He has written for numerous industry publications about AV, IT, unified communications and collaboration (UCC), cloud and software, IoT, cybersecurity and more. He has also conducted interviews with AV and IT executives and global influencers.