Nearly six years ago to the day, Cisco closed on its $3.3 billion acquisition of Tandberg. Although it was announced six months earlier, the path acquisition was impeded by investor challenges and regulatory hurdles. During that time, I was part of the Polycom PR machine that highlighted the fact that with Logitech’s recent acquisition of LifeSize, Polycom remained the last independent videoconferencing provider focused on open standards and giving customers choice and flexibility.
Although the positioning overlooked the fact that, at the time, Radvision was breaking into the endpoint market, it was a good story – far more than a simple spin on the Cisco-Tandberg news. And anyhow, Avaya snatched up Radvision two years later, leaving Polycom once again on its own.
Flash forward six years and Mitel announces it will purchase Polycom for nearly $2 billion. One of my first thoughts is, where does that leave customers who still want choice and flexibility in the videoconferencing platform? Well… times have changed, videoconferencing has gotten a lot more affordable, and the meaning of choice and flexibility have too.
In the days of legacy videoconferencing, “open” by Polycom’s standards, meant a Polycom video network that allowed other less expensive systems to connect using H.323 or SIP. Today, “open” means the ability to leverage the platform of their choice – whether it’s something free like Google Hangouts and Skype, a freemium service like Zoom, or a full-blown enterprise-class unified communications network like Microsoft Skype for Business. Some companies use all three, and of course there are many others… BlueJeans, LifeSize (which was recently spun out of Logitech) and Vidyo, to name just a few.
While all of this consolidation has been taking place, “Logitech has quietly become a big deal in videoconferencing,” wrote Fast Company’s Harry McCracken. With its newest video systems, Logitech Group and the Logitech ConferenceCam Kit with Intel NUC, Logitech is raising the bar of what it means to be truly open and deliver an enterprise-grade video experience. In fact, in the last year, Logitech sold more conference room systems than Polycom, and its video business continues to grow. All of this makes me wonder… am I now working for the world’s newest leading independent provider of videoconferencing? Only time will tell, but I sure hope so!