7 Comments

Summary:

Video conferencing company Polycom is moving upmarket by agreeing to buy the assets of HP’s Visual Collaboration business, including its Halo Products and Managed Services division, in a $90 million deal that will put Polycom in more direct competition with Cisco

screen-shot-2010-11-17-at-15-23-22

Video conferencing company Polycom, is moving upmarket by agreeing to buy the assets of HP’s Visual Collaboration business, including its Halo Products and Managed Services division. This puts Polycom in more direct competition with Cisco at the high end even as Microsoft’s purchase of Skype squeezes it from below.

But the move also looks like the first indications of cracks in the high-end video conferencing space, as companies weigh the costs versus the benefits of deploying high-end, expensive telepresence when they could offer good-enough solutions via Skype, Polycom or others. Plus, with its LifeSize division, Polycom’s no slouch at providing decent-quality video conferencing. And those are far cheaper, which means workers can actually telecommute from home offices using them as opposed to driving into a satellite office to use the fancy Halo or teleprescence gear. Using a cheaper desktop videoconferencing or even an application on a mobile device makes sense for the way the future of work and communications is heading.

But back to this deal, which was rumored to be worth a paltry $89 million, a real come down for the Halo business. With the acquisition, the two companies have also agreed to enter into a broad strategic alliance in which Polycom will serve as an exclusive partner to HP for telepresence and certain video UC solutions for both resale and internal HP deployments. Additionally, Polycom’s video applications will be made available for HP’s WebOS platform. This could be the beginning of an application as opposed to a high-end video conferencing system.

HP had only just launched a new line of HD videoconferencing products last November, but Polycom is a leader in the unified communications market with a much broader range of UC products that work on Polycom hardware as well as eventually working on other devices. This begs the question of how long Cisco might push telepresence?

The deal will give Polycom access to HP’s technology while extending its reach to HP’s installed base of visual collaboration products, while HP will be able to resell Polycom’s broad range of UC equipment, infrastructure and software. The deal is due to close in the third quarter of this year.

  1. Robert Freeborn Wednesday, June 1, 2011

    Why do you think this “begs the question of how long Cisco pushes telepresence”? The only reason to ask that question assumes that Cisco’s TP business is worth a similar $89mm value. It could be that HP was caught between Cisco and Polycom with no foreseeable strategy to differentiate and/or succeed.

    Share
  2. Lifesize is a division of Logitech, NOT Polycom. Lord.

    Share
    1. Sorry about that. We fixed.

      Share
  3. Howdy,

    I don’t think this article is quite hitting the point on Telepresence. We have two markets which are on a collision/convergence path. The upscale Telepresence market lacks the features to properly differentiate itself from the lower stream competitors. A box from Logitech has almost the same functionality as Halo at a fraction of the cost. Polycom has offerings in the 50k that rock in 1080p, and there are numerous hosted competitors like gotomeeting.

    Cisco’s big bet was that people cared about the difference between 480p and 1080p, and while they do, it’s not enough to write a check for half-a-million. Cisco may be doubling down on video, but is that the right option when their market is being cannibalized by their competitors?

    Cheers,
    Joshua

    My article on the subject: http://thepbxblog.com/2011/06/01/polycom-buys-hps-telepresence-unit/

    Share
    1. Good points, Joshua, thanks.

      Share
    2. Robert Freeborn Thursday, June 2, 2011

      Isn’t the “good enough” argument the same as saying Avaya, Cisco and other enterprise voice solutions should disappear in the face of Skype? OpenOffice has been around for a while but last time I checked, M$ was still doing pretty well with the Office Suite. Unfortunately, “good enough” isn’t always, well, good enough.

      r.

      Share
  4. The most interesting and telling part of this deal will be to see what Polycom does with the HP/Vidyo partnership for SVC-based video solutions. SVC-based video will be in the middle of the upcoming battle for personal video endpoints and clients.

    Share

Comments have been disabled for this post