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HP goes deeper into hybrid work with Poly acquisition

HP plans to acquire Poly to appeal to companies looking for conference gear, headsets and other devices for hybrid work. HP expects to close the $3.3 billion deal this year.

HP's $3.3. billion acquisition of Poly would add to the computer maker's product portfolio video and voice hardware crucial to companies transitioning to hybrid work as employees return to offices.

The acquisition, announced this week, would add to HP's product catalog the Poly video cameras, headsets and conference-room products that span the home and office. Many of the products make people more productive in a hybrid workplace, so HP predicts a boom in corporate spending on the devices.

Enrique LoresEnrique Lores

"The rise of the hybrid office creates a once-in-a-generation opportunity to redefine the way work gets done," HP CEO Enrique Lores said in a statement.

Within offices, demand for conference room gear will drive a threefold increase in global spending from $2.75 billion in 2020 to $7.71 billion in 2025, according to research firm Frost & Sullivan. Companies are spending more because before the pandemic, video conferencing was a nice-to-have capability available in only 2% of small conference rooms.

"It's clear that video meetings are not going away because not everyone's going back [to the office]," TECHnalysis Research analyst Bob O'Donnell said. "A lot of the companies that HP is going to be talking to need more and more conference-room [products]."

By acquiring one of the top names in home and office equipment, HP becomes an instant player in the market, J Arnold & Associates analyst Jon Arnold said. HP can pair its laptops and Poly devices while taking advantage of its brand recognition among tech buyers.

"HP is already a name people know and trust," Arnold said. The customer support that HP would provide with the Poly gear would mean fewer headaches for IT staff.

HP expects substantial benefits from the acquisition. The company believes its scale will help Poly cut manufacturing and overhead costs, and it could increase sales by combining its PCs with Poly products. HP projects the purchase will push Poly's annual growth to 15% in the three years after the deal closes.

Poly is no stranger to market consolidation. The company was formed in 2019 following the $2 billion merger of Plantronics and Polycom a year earlier. Poly's largest rivals are Cisco and Logitech.

HP expects the deal to close by the end of the year, pending approval from regulators and Poly stockholders.

Collaboration software makers have joined hardware manufacturers in targeting the hot hybrid-work market. Cisco, Microsoft and Zoom recently bolstered their video conference services on meeting-room devices. The vendors aimed many features at ensuring meeting equity between in-person and remote workers.

Mike Gleason is a reporter covering unified communications and collaboration tools. He previously covered communities in the MetroWest region of Massachusetts for the Milford Daily NewsWalpole TimesSharon Advocate and Medfield Press. He has also worked for newspapers in central Massachusetts and southwestern Vermont and served as a local editor for Patch. He can be found on Twitter at @MGleason_TT.

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