Logitech, GN Netcom Partner To Expand UC Footprint

It's all part of a move by Logitech to expand its footprint among business customers and channel partners while capturing more of the overall unified communications (UC) spend.

Under the moniker "Logitech powered by Jabra," Logitech will sell the Jabra SPEAK 410 speakerphone, Jabra GO 6430 wireless DECT headset and the Jabra PRO 9450 wireless Bluetooth headset. It's essentially an OEM agreement, and the products will be branded Logitech and sold through Logitech and channel partners beginning in July.

According to Eric Kintz, general manager for Logitech for Business, the GN Netcom partnership is one of several targeted moves Logitech will be making over the next six months to expand what it can offer through solution providers. Earlier this month, Kintz told CRN that Logitech will also drive tighter alignment and product development between Logitech and LifeSize Communications, which Logitech bought in 2009.

"We believe there is a significant opportunity for UC to move to the desktop," Kintz told CRN this week. "We see that happening this year, and we see an opportunity for Logitech and LifeSize to become a full end-point solution provider, so that as a channel partner, when you deploy U.C., we can be your full solution provider offering meeting room system infrastructure but also desktop solutions as well."

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GN Netcom's Jabra brand carries weight in the channel, Kintz noted, and the products Logitech will use from Jabra are all certified to work with Avaya, Microsoft, Cisco and Polycom systems, too. Under the terms of the agreement, Logitech and GN Netcom will also collaborate on future audio peripherals for UC.

"What's interesting to us is that webcams, headsets, meeting room conferencing have traditionally been offered by separate companies," Kintz said. "The headsets come from the contact center and office world, the webcams come from the desktop PC video world and meeting room [systems] come from the traditional Polycom and Tandberg video space. UC is forcing a collision of those spaces into a full solution."

Logitech already has headsets, including corded versions, but was looking for higher-end peripherals to round out its offering, including the digital enhanced cordless telecommunications (DECT) wares GN Netcom offers with Jabra.

"We're clearly going after Plantronics and we see an opportunity for us," Kintz said of the Jabra brand's most visible headset market rival. The choice to partner, rather than build in-house, he said, was a time-to-market issue, and Logitech found a willing R&D partner in GN Netcom, too.

"We want to drive more stickiness in the accounts and more margin in the accounts," Kintz said.

The GN Netcom agreement is part of a full-court press from Logitech for Business, a new unit within Logitech that was formed earlier this year and is headed by Kintz. It officially debuted on April 1, the same day that a new Logitech channel partner program went live.

"We're very encouraged by the reception, so we plan to scale it very significantly," Kintz explained.

Logitech kept the number of partners in the program deliberately constrained -- it has about 20 solution providers in the Logitech for Business program right now. Kintz said Logitech expects to expand that number to 250, and there will likely be some overlap between VARs in Logitech's program and LifeSize's, even though the companies' two channel programs will remain separate.

Logitech for Business has its own marketing budget and R&D team within Logitech, and the partner program itself has traditional Platinum, Gold and Silver tiers, with a range of sales and marketing resources for partners, including MDF.

Traditionally, Logitech's business-to-business unit has accounted for about 20 percent of Logitech revenue -- a smaller contributor than that of Logitech's consumer-facing businesses.

"But we see UC as the biggest growth opportunity for us," Kintz said. "There are not traditional Logitech partners in the U.C. space, and we now have a full portfolio."