HP has made some very interesting moves in recent months. The latest, to acquire Poly, is one of the most interesting, because unlike HP’s more diverse peers that are expanding in all directions, HP is instead focusing on increasing its depth in the desktop and collaboration segments.
Poly, a combination of Polycom and Plantronics that previously went by the name Polycom, is one of the leading suppliers of headsets, cameras and accessories used for telephone and video calls, and for collaboration.
Let’s talk about HP’s desktop, communications and collaboration strategy this week and what the company is putting together.
Building a Strategic Advantage
There are several ways to build a company, many of them very risky. An example of a risky path is to buy into markets you do not know or understand.
The best examples of that were Chrysler in the 1960s and 1970s going into aircraft and yachts, AT&T going into computers and IBM doing telephony. The three companies thought they were entering similar industries but were unaware of the differences. With the acquisition of Poly, HP is making its own move, and this may inspire the company to again explore the level of integration both AT&T and IBM attempted when telephony and computing were far different.
Also read: HP Builds an Advanced Cloud Workstation for the Metaverse
Why HP’s Approach is Better
When I worked at IBM, I shared a lab and owned the converged PC Telephony desktop products as a Competitive Analyst (I was not a product manager, but I did have to know how these products would compete).
Right now, few of us have an integrated experience. It is difficult and not easy to move from a call to video conference to a collaboration session. The result of this difficulty is a disconnected mess of cell phones, office phones, PCs, huddle and conference room equipment that create a mess of tools that are needlessly complex to use and manage.
With the Poly acquisition, assuming it is approved, HP is on a path to really clean up the desktop and begin combining these elements so that users can more easily transition to the tools they need as the call evolves to facilitate better collaboration and communication.
Initially, these will be headsets that improve moving from the desk telephone to the Zoom or Teams call. These headsets will allow users to move from their desk telephone to the Zoom or Teams call more easily. If Poly is successful, it will be the beginning of a major battle for control over the desktop. It will use Microsoft tools to integrate virtual smartphones with the desktop. This will be supported by Poly-based peripherals, which allow users to quickly and easily switch between voice, video, and collaboration on the fly.