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ThinkingPhones acquires Fuze to bolster video conferencing service

UCaaS provider ThinkingPhones is taking a mobile-first approach to enhancing its video and Web collaboration capabilities by acquiring cloud video provider Fuze.

Unified communications as a service provider ThinkingPhones has acquired cloud-based video conferencing service Fuze in order to expand its video and Web collaboration capabilities.

Increasingly, UCaaS vendors are offering more comprehensive service bundles and coalescing communication tools to give users the flexibility to collaborate however they want, said Elka Popova, program director at Frost & Sullivan.

"Fuze is going to bring that richer multimedia experience to ThinkingPhones' customer base," she said.

Steve Kokinos, co-founder and CEO of Cambridge, Mass.-based ThinkingPhones, said the company has a basic video conferencing service in its UCaaS portfolio, which includes telephony, messaging, mobility and contact center capabilities, but realized that organizations are making more expansive video investments -- from large group video to integrations with legacy systems -- that need to work seamlessly with any device.

"One thing we feel is important is having a great user experience across the spectrum of mobile, desktop and Web," Kokinos said. That's where the acquisition made sense, he added.

Charlie Newark-French, president of San Francisco-based Fuze, said the acquisition was compelling for Fuze because the company does not offer its own PBX solution, something its customers wanted.

"It allowed us to go to customers and the market with a single solution with both voice and video and the whole communication stack," he said.

Kokinos said the two companies are merging their back-end infrastructure, and their services will be combined into a single client by the second half of 2016. He said changes will roll out incrementally to users over the next six to nine months as Fuze replaces ThinkingPhones' video conferencing service.

Fuze will still offer a standalone service for users who only want video conferencing, Newark-French said.

A mobile-first video conferencing service

While the majority of users still use desk phones, workers are increasingly using their mobile devices alongside their desk phones, and yet others are using mobile devices as their primary communication method, Popova said.

She said Fuze has seen a significant percentage of users joining conferences by mobile devices and ThinkingPhones is seeing increased traction with its mobile clients.

Newark-French said Fuze was built to support four trends in the unified communications and collaboration space: distributed teams, bring your own device (BYOD), the cloud and quality of service. Fuze's video conferencing service leverages the cloud to provide communication flexibility to distributed teams and a service that works on multiple devices.

Kokinos said ThinkingPhones focuses on mobility as users shift away from legacy phone systems. The UCaaS service gives users the tools to communicate how they want from their work ID, he said.

"The two companies can combine their efforts to provide more compelling functionalities for an increasingly mobile workforce," Popova said.

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