The competition for this product (Cisco, Magor, etc) can easily run into 6 figures. Think of it as Google charging $500 for the software & configuration in addition to the $250/year. Would you rather they made their money by showing ads during your conference?
I don't think HN is the target audience for this product. Many of us can roll out our own cheaper solution. This is targeted towards the non tech-savvy managers that want a cheaper video conference solution. The 250 dollar a year fee is tiny for a large company but large enough to prevent home users from adopting it.
I agree. I don't get what "support and maintenance" means. I currently have a set-top box (Apple TV), webcam, HD camera and speakers, and don't pay a yearly "maintenance" for any of them. Why would running a teleconferencing software on such a setup cost $250/year?
The only motivation I can see is: "well the competition charges a hefty recurring fee, so why shouldn't we", but then the competition isn't doing all that well for this reason. I see a lot of resemblance to Cisco's "Umi" product, which had a $25/mo fee as well, and was a total flop.
You don't pay a yearly maintenance for any of them because if they break, you're going to have to fix them yourself.
Most companies prefer to actually have a support plan, because if they don't, the alternative is to pay their own people to fix them, and it's usually cheaper to not pay someone full-time to have expertise in that area.
We had hundreds of expensive Macs at my last gig. Guess how many of those we bought AppleCare for? Zero. This was also true of pretty much every piece of electronic equipment we owned.
Note that this isn't very unusual either at most companies. Given the low failure rate of most electronics, it is simply cheaper for the business/IT team to buy a replacement Mac / router / whatever than to pay any kind of yearly maintenance fee, which is always designed to make more money for the vendor.
$250/year for a $999 piece of equipment is not a good deal. If it were an option, like AppleCare, most would advise you to not take it.