Ah, the display mirroring challenge… There are all kinds of neat things you can do with the likes of AppleTVs and Chromecast devices in the home, where most of us have a single small network and don’t have to worry much about how protocols like Bonjour scale, or the impact of multicast on our little wireless environments.
Then there’s the pain that many of us with very, very large WLAN environments deal with in trying to make standards-based, enterprise-secure networks do odd tricks to accommodate the consumer-grade (but very cool) capabilities that are possible at home (where a fundamentally different network paradigm lives, one largely built on the classic single Class C subnet.) Reference the Higher Ed petition from 2012, asking for Apple to step up and help with the dated and often-frustrating nature of Bonjour when their devices come to work. This is but one example of the “Works Easy At Home, Complete Pain In The Rear At Work” category of display devices.
Then there’s Mersive’s Solstice software, which almost became my silver bullet to the display conundrum.
I fell in love with the notion of Mersive’s Solstice last year, when I was the lead wireless judge for Best of Interop. Solstice did well, and being a foot soldier in the ongoing Bonjour Wars of Higher Ed, I saw the value of Solstice as a network-agnostic, don’t-make-any-topology-changes-on-our-account, viable option in enabling client devices of all types to get their displayed content onto the room projector or other display with minimal effort. I had great dialogues with the company, learned of their origins as computer scientists and makers of the most gorgeous multi-screen video walls used around the world. They were able to address all of my concerns on early versions of the product, and I tried my hardest to explain the way large campus networks are laid out, and what does and doesn’t work for our demographic in general.
I trialed Solstice, and I liked it. I helped it evolve. I showed it to colleagues in the decision making process, and they liked it. Solstice is a nice, easy, problem solving snap-in to any network environment. The company has some of the nicest people you’ll ever talk with behind the curtain. All the basics are in place.
But it also costs a king’s ransom.
In a market where Solstice is competing against $35 Chromecasts and $100 AppleTVs, a list price of $3,500 per copy immediately comes across as a turn-off. Mersive has every right to charge what they feel is fair for their products, and I don’t begrudge them that. But when you’re looking for something that can get used in hundreds (or potentially thousands) of classrooms, meeting rooms, and collaborative spaces, price concerns scale up quick. Even at “deep discounts” off of the $3500 list price, Solstice comes out high.
To me, the fact that Solstice solves many of the challenges associated with hardware-based alternatives certainly does make it worthy of pricing beyond what the problematic gadgets themselves fetch. But when it starts at a thirty-five times higher price than an AppleTV, an environment of any size will be hard-pressed to make a go of Solstice.
I sincerely hope Mersive’s Solstice does well for the company in whatever their target market is (perhaps companies with deep pockets and just a handful of rooms to fit out?). But when I put on my Detached Analysist’s Hat, I can’t help but lament that I’m watching a good product price itself out of other markets that could really benefit from it.
And that’s a bummer.