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Atlassian launches HipChat group video calling

Atlassian has responded to customer demand by launching HipChat group video calling. One-to-one video calling in HipChat has doubled annually since the feature's introduction in 2014.

Atlassian HipChat has launched group video calling in its team collaboration service. The move is the latest example of a collaboration vendor focusing on video as a communication tool.

HipChat group video was introduced Thursday, joining messaging and content sharing as core capabilities in the paid version of the product -- HipChat Plus.

Adding video conferencing to a collaboration application has become easier for vendors because of the availability of cloud-based video and WebRTC. Vendors use cloud computing to deliver video conferencing to desktops, laptops and mobile devices. WebRTC is the technology used to let people access the video user interface through a browser or application.

HipChat group video calling makes it less likely a user will leave the application for a video conferencing service provided by another vendor, said Ira Weinstein, an analyst at Wainhouse Research LLC, based in Duxbury, Mass.

"The HipChat challenge is keeping users in their app instead of allowing them to use Cisco [video calling] in a parallel client," Weinstein said. "HipChat has to protect its turf."

HipChat has had one-to-one video calling available in its chat rooms since 2014. HipChat group video provides video conferencing across a team of workers, or lets two people on a video call add participants, said Steve Goldsmith, general manager of HipChat, based in San Francisco.

The number of video calls within HipChat has doubled annually over the last two years, according to Goldsmith, who declined to provide exact figures. HipChat's owner, Atlassian, does not release customer or revenue data on the service.

HipChat competes with Slack, Cisco Spark and Google Hangouts. The larger rivals also provide video conferencing in their respective collaboration products.

Google launches Duo video

The HipChat group video announcement came the same week Google launched Duo, a consumer video-calling service that competes with Apple's FaceTime. The Duo launch reflects Google's strategy of unbundling consumer-centric communication apps from Hangouts to make it a business-only product.

Duo provides one-to-one video calling on an Android or Apple iOS device. The application can switch between Wi-Fi and a cellular service to maintain a connection. Also, if a broadband or cellular connection weakens, Duo will automatically degrade video quality to avoid dropping the call.

Overall, Duo is "very feature-basic," Weinstein said. "It lacks things [such as group video calling] that enterprise users pretty much expect."

Analysts said video calling will increase as it becomes easier to access on a mobile device or through an online collaboration service. Meanwhile, the use of video conferencing within meeting rooms was between flat and up marginally this year, compared to 2015, according to Wainhouse.

Global revenue for enterprise video equipment used in conference rooms increased 1.5% year over year in 2015, according to IDC. The bump was the first increase after three consecutive years of revenue declines.

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