First Thoughts on Polycom’s Obihai Acquisition
Jan 05, 2018
As the new year begins, so do the latest round of mergers, acquisitions and consolidation in the unified communications and collaboration market. M&A in the UC space typically falls into two categories. The first are strategic technology acquisitions that bolster a vendor’s product portfolio while the other are competitor acquisitions for a quick bump to market share. In the case of Obihai, it is clear that Polycom is opting for the former, a strategic addition of technology to the vendor’s existing portfolio, as well as a set of tools and relationships that moves Polycom's voice solutions into a cloud-ready future.
Product Perspective: The addition of Obihai’s analog telephony adaptors (ATA’s) is very significant, and fills a gap that Polycom has always had in the portfolio. As much as we in the industry like to envision an all-IP environment, the reality in most businesses will need an analog interface to connect “something” (FAX or credit card machines, legacy cordless or conference phones, industry-specific devices and applications). With Obihai, Polycom is better positioned to be a one-stop shop for UC endpoints. This is going to be particularly important as the Cisco acquisition of BroadSoft closes, as Cisco can already make a similar pitch to service providers, channel partners and end customers.
Technology Perspective: Beyond ATAs, it appears that the real jewel for Polycom is Obihai’s development team and the technology that powers Obihai’s cloud-based management and provisioning services. Endpoint deployment, management, and monitoring are often stumbling blocks for UC deployments, a situation that is actually more acute in cloud-based UCaaS services. Adding an established cloud-based solution that is accessible (via web portal or APIs) by service providers, end customers, and ideally even Polycom’s channel partners, will be a very significant differentiator in the endpoint market. While future plans have not been announced, extending the cloud platform to Polycom’s installed base of users would also engender a new confidence in the investments customers and service providers have made with Polycom, and make them the vendor of choice for new services and solutions. In addition, the established relationships and interoperability that Obihai has developed with existing service providers, as well as emerging enterprise UC providers such as Google and Amazon, should also position Polycom very well as a preferred endpoint vendor.
Strategy Perspective: This acquisition shows a commitment to the previously stated direction of a product-based play, which reduces or eliminates conflict with service provider partners. In fact, this particular acquisition will likely enhance the capabilities of Polycom’s products and put new tools in the hands of partners. In addition, Obihai brings complimentary technology solutions and products to Polycom. This acquisition actually promotes organic growth of Polycom’s existing products and extends the product portfolio, while requiring minor product rationalization.
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