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Polycom acquisition helps Plantronics against Cisco, Logitech

In recent UC blogs, analysts discuss the Plantronics-Polycom deal, the convergence of cloud contact center services and UC, and the new AV1 video codec.

Plantronics' $2 billion Polycom acquisition gives the headset-maker an expanded portfolio to ramp up competition against Cisco and Logitech, according to Wainhouse Research analysts Alan Greenberg and Andrew Nilssen.

The Polycom acquisition blends two complementary companies and should provide a boost to Plantronics, especially after Cisco unveiled a line of headsets in March. The new Cisco headsets, which integrate with Cisco's IP phones and soft clients, compete with Plantronics' headset offerings. However, Polycom also develops business phones, which creates a natural extension of Plantronics' devices to compete against Cisco, Nilssen and Greenberg wrote in a blog.

Acquiring Polycom also helps Plantronics compete in a growing segment of the video conferencing market that Nilssen and Greenberg called "service-attached" video. Video endpoints in this segment are tied to specific video conferencing services, rather than the general interoperability of H.323 and Session Initiation Protocol endpoints. While Polycom has traditionally focused on H.323 and SIP endpoints, Plantronics could expand into the service-attached market and compete against vendors such as Logitech, AVer, Huddly and Owl Labs, they wrote.

Plantronics can also use the Polycom acquisition to expand its management and analytics capabilities. Plantronics provides insight into the user experience with its headsets and has partnerships with performance management vendors like Nectar. Polycom can now expand these capabilities into the conference room.

Read more about the financial and organizational considerations of the Polycom acquisition.

Seeking a one-stop shop for cloud contact center and UC

The cloud is changing the way organizations buy contact center services, as they look to buy all their cloud communication tools from a single provider, according to Frost & Sullivan analyst Elka Popova.

An integrated set of cloud communications and contact center services from a single provider offers businesses operational efficiencies and greater usability. It could also reduce vendor management costs and provide tighter integration among tools, Popova wrote in a blog post.

Many cloud communication providers are launching contact-center-as-a-service (CCaaS) offerings either through third-party partnerships or their own internal development and acquisitions. Most providers offer basic call center functionality suitable for small businesses. But more providers are adding multichannel capabilities for midsize and enterprise organizations, such as call recording, analytics and AI-driven tools, she said.

Cloud communication vendors -- such as 8x8 Inc., Avaya and Mitel -- offer CCaaS as a stand-alone or integrated product through internal development or acquiring contact center services. Other vendors -- such as Fuze, RingCentral, Vonage and Ribbon Communications -- offer CCaaS through partnerships with contact center vendors such as NICE inContact and Five9.

Read more about how cloud communication vendors are adding contact center services to their portfolios.

Royalty-free video codec introduced

The Alliance for Open Media announced a new real-time video specification that is royalty-free. The AV1 codec is reflective of a shift in the video codec industry, according to industry analyst Tsahi Levent-Levi.

Traditionally, vendors adopting codecs would pay royalties to video codec creators or patent holders. However, members of the Alliance for Open Media allow free access to essential patents in the implementation of Alliance for Open Media-related specifications. The AV1 specification, similar to video codecs like VP8 and H.264, is based on patents by members of the Alliance for Open Media and uses techniques that aren't patented.

Major players in the Alliance for Open Media range from web browser vendors, such as Google, Mozilla and Microsoft, to enterprise video providers, such as Vidyo, Cisco and Polycom. The AV1 specification is also Open Source, which allows companies to start using the codec without needing to build from scratch. The codec is designed to be easier to develop and use, Levent-Levi said.

The Alliance for Open Media plans to have a software implementation of an AV1 encoder and decoder by the end of 2018 and plans to have hardware implementations available by the end of 2019. Mass adoption of the codec is expected by 2020.

Read more about Levent-Levi's take on the capabilities of the AV1 codec.

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