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Polycom introduces bundle for audio and video conferencing

Polycom introduces a new pricing structure for audio and video conferencing services, in hopes of grabbing market share from increasingly popular cloud-based vendors.

Polycom Inc. has changed its licensing structure to let customers bundle more audio and video conferencing services together at lower costs, a move that could help the company defend against increasing competition from cloud-based vendors. 

This month, Polycom announced its RealPresence Clariti service, which provides customers with cloud-like pricing. With Clariti, customers can pick the services they want and pay a per-user licensing fee. Included in the package is a hybrid cloud-bursting feature that lets businesses manage unexpected demand for video.

Polycom's audio and video conferencing technology deployments have historically been cumbersome for customers, requiring expensive investments in on-premises hardware and maintenance. Customers also had less flexibility in customizing the services they wanted, said Irwin Lazar, an analyst for Nemertes Research.

Growing supply of cloud-based audio and video conferencing services

Polycom aims to solve those problems by letting customers choose their audio and video conferencing services in a bundle, and then pay for it through a monthly subscription. The necessary hardware is included in the Clariti licensing fee, which could cut the cost of Polycom video by a third, Lazar said.

"It shows there is competitive pressure from having to compete with a Blue Jeans, Zoom and Acano, and all the other cloud-based providers who have been nipping at their heels," Lazar said.

The move could also be related to falling profits. Polycom reported last year that net income and revenue fell each of the first three quarters. The drop in sales prompted executives to cut 388 jobs, which amounted to an 11% reduction in staff.

Polycom and other traditional hardware vendors have been hit hard by customers migrating to cloud services, analysts said.

"The on-prem vendors were struggling because they were selling individual equipment, software licenses and maintenance as separate items, whereas the cloud vendors turned that model on its head with a customized approach," Lazar said.

With Clariti, Polycom is striking back by letting customers pick the services they want from a software suite that includes audio and video conferencing bridging, call control, device management, browser and software clients, analytics, scheduling, firewall traversal and content collaboration. Customers can deploy the applications on premises, in the cloud or as a hybrid service, according to Roopam Jain, an analyst at Frost & Sullivan.

"Polycom is making video conferencing easier to sell, easier to buy, easier to consume and simpler to implement, leading to a more seamless experience, as well as huge cost savings over what was previously a complex lineup of multiple SKUs," Jain said.

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