HP has sold the assets of its Visual Collaboration business, including the Halo Products and Managed Services business, to rival video specialists Polycom. In addition, the two companies will establish a strategic relationship in which Polycom will serve as an exclusive partner to HP for telepresence and other video-based unified communications solutions. Polycom's video applications will also be made available for HP's WebOS platform.
Andrew Miller, Polycom president and CEO, was effusive about the deal:
“This announcement is a truly groundbreaking development in the UC industry.
The transaction makes the most of the strength of two industry leading, customer-centric organizations to offer a seamless UC experience with high-quality, enterprise-class telepresence solutions to millions of customers.”
Shane Robison, HP EVP and chief strategy and technology officer, explained HP’s decision:
“This transaction and alliance allows us to focus on executing our strategy in cloud computing and connectivity, while ensuring the long-term care of our customers and development of our services business.”
So much for speculation that Polycom was up for sale, and that HP would be the buyer… Polycom also announced the creation of the ‘Open Visual Communications Consortium’ with a number of service providers to drive B2B and B2C adoption of video. Partners include AT&T, BT conferencing, Global Crossing, Orange, Telefonica and Verizon.
Said Yankee analyst Zeus Kerravala:
“These moves create great short-term opportunity for Polycom to try and take a leadership position in video. Over the past few years Polycom has allowed Cisco to be the primary evangelist for corporate video and seemed content to ride the wave Cisco has created. Polycom now has strategic relationships with two of the largest IT vendors (HP and Microsoft) as well as developing relationships with network service providers, which has typically been an area of exclusivity for Cisco.”
According to the GigaOm site, the deal was worth “a paltry $89 million, a real come down for the Halo business”, adding:
“HP had only just launched a new line of HD videoconferencing products last November, but Polycom is a leader in the unified communications market. This begs the question of how long Cisco might push telepresence?”
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