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Mitel's Polycom acquisition could spawn cloud video, mobile UC services

The UC buyer could see new products and services emerge after Mitel's Polycom acquisition. Analysts envision cloud video services and mobile UC offerings.

Since Mitel Networks Corp. announced its $1.96 billion Polycom Inc. acquisition, one of the main questions is how Mitel will use Polycom's video conferencing technology.

For now, it's business as usual for the unified communications (UC) buyer, as Mitel has said it plans to leave Polycom as an independent subsidiary. But there are potential areas where the two companies' products and services could converge.

One integration that could emerge from the Polycom acquisition is Polycom could leverage Mitel's cloud infrastructure to become a cloud video service provider, said Irwin Lazar, vice president and service director at Nemertes Research. With this integration, Polycom could compete with cloud video service providers like Blue Jeans, Zoom and Cisco's Collaboration Meeting Rooms.

Lazar said Mitel will likely end its video conferencing partnership with Vidyo as it looks to integrate Polycom's portfolio with its offerings.

"Polycom has never stood up its own cloud because they don't want to compete with providers," he said. "Mitel can now launch its own video cloud services."

Mitel could also bundle Polycom endpoints with its services. Lazar said competitors in the endpoint space, like Snom Technology and Yealink Inc., could approach Polycom's channel partners and argue that they can provide cheaper phones than a company that now has its own cloud service.

UC buyers shouldn't expect Polycom's partnerships to change. Lazar said much of Polycom's revenue comes from selling endpoints for products and services that compete with Mitel.

"Mitel is smart enough to understand they can't hurt that business," he said. "They can't go in and say they want to replace hosted voice partners with Mitel solutions."

Potential impact on mobile UC

Mitel's Polycom acquisition could make some waves in the mobile UC space. Analyst Zeus Kerravala wrote in a blog that the acquisition has "game-changing potential" for mobile.

"The entire UC industry has lagged at building voice and video solutions that work well over wireless networks," Kerravala wrote. "Polycom and Mitel together could solve this in the network instead of having to rely on over-the-top optimization."

Last year, Mitel acquired Mavenir, a software-based service provider for mobile carriers, as Mitel shifts its UC strategy to a mobile-first approach. Lazar said the Mavenir acquisition helps Mitel differentiate itself from Microsoft and Cisco by giving mobile providers a platform for services like Voice over LTE.

Lazar said Polycom could embed video in Mitel's mobile offerings for use cases like video in the contact center or customer-facing video. He said there is demand in customer service for mobile video that allows customers to visually communicate problems to contact center agents.

Kerravala said Polycom also has unique features, like acoustic fence, which improves the quality of audio and video in noisy environments. Features like these can be integrated with Mitel's mobile offerings to improve mobile communication in environments like factories, stadiums and oil fields.

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