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Looking for the hot application for the next decade? The one that could
differentiate your company? Think video.

At least if you believe Logitech and Cisco, which have both announced major
acquisitions designed to make them into bigger players in the quickly growing
market for HD video conferencing.

“Video is the killer app for the next decade,” says Gerald Quindlen, Logitech
president and CEO, explaining his company’s
move to make its biggest acquisition ever in a growing HD video conferencing
company. “We think video should be as mainstream and ubiquitous as audio.”

And video has certainly been growing as businesses large and small look to
alternatives to business travel and vertical industries such as health care
look to new applications, such as telemedicine.

“These acquisitions validate that the industry is a hot industry and that video
is moving from a niche application and from an application that runs parallel
to the rest of communications,” says Joan Vandermate, vice president of
marketing at Polycom’s video solutions group. If Cisco’s acquisition of
Tandberg goes through and Logitech’s acquisition of LifeSize goes through,
Polycom will be the only remaining large independent vendor of HD video

Is Polycom for sale, too?

“We don’t really comment on that,” says Vandermate. “I guess anything is
possible, but we are not actively courting.”

But the frenzy of deals among Polycom’s competitors shows the spike of interest
in this technology.

“Video is moving mainstream,” she says. “It will become a core application in
the business world.”

Vandermate says the consolidation that is going on right now comes as companies
look to build out their portfolio of applications.

But for Polycom it means that partnerships with other vendors will grow in
importance. The company boasts such partnerships with Avaya, Nortel, IBM
and Microsoft. And that approach gives channel partners an opportunity to add
more value as they can put together best-of-breed solutions for both video and
the larger set of applications that video is becoming a part of—unified

“Companies want to integrate all that into unified communications,” says
Vandermate. “Customers want to be able to move from an instant message
conversation to a phone call to a video call to a multipoint video call”
without dropping anything. “They want it all to be very smooth and tight and
not to seem like separate networks.”

That’s still a bit of a tall order today.

Another trend in the market has been offering systems that are more affordable
for smaller businesses and for remote sites of big businesses. Vandermate says
Polycom offers the full range of solutions, with room systems for under $5,000,
desktops for under $50 a seat for soft clients and high-end telepresence
solutions too.

There are plenty of opportunities for solution provider channel partners in
this new world of video communications, says Vandermate. Partners should pursue
specialty expertise in video communications and unified communications, she

“The opportunity lies in the services of integrating it all,” Vandermate says.
“There is a tremendous opportunity for the reseller market to go after a big
piece of the pie.”