Logitech Aims Speakerphone at Mobile Workers
Logitech officials, who view unified communications as a growth area for the company, are looking to make it easier for an individual or a small group of people to quickly create a conference room by leveraging their mobile devices.
The company next month will roll out the Mobile Speakerphone P710e, a compact appliance that comes with enterprise-quality audio and a sliding top that houses an integrated stand that can hold a mobile phone or tablet to create a hands-free video call. It also comes with USB and Bluetooth connectivity and near-field communication (NFC) pairing capabilities, letting mobile workers use a Bluetooth-enabled keyboard to take notes on a tablet during an audio call.
The appliance can pair up with as many as eight Bluetooth-enabled devices and connect to two Bluetooth mobile devices at the same time. Through the USB port, users can connect PCs and Apple Macs. It also offers up to 15 hours of battery time.
The device is aimed at the growing numbers of mobile or remote workers who are looking for fast and easy ways to set up conference calls wherever they are, according to Eric Kintz, senior vice president and general manager of Logitech for Business.
"We designed the Logitech Mobile Speakerphone P710e for the increasing number of people who work outside the traditional office," Kintz said in a statement. "Now, professionals on the go or in small-group meetings can take advantage of a portable speakerphone with high-quality voice and ample battery life, making it simple to host conference or video calls from anywhere, at any time, on just about any device."
The speakerphone can work with a range of business-grade unified communications (UC) platforms, including offerings from Cisco Systems and Microsoft's Lync. It also is compatible with such consumer solutions as Skype and Apple's Facetime.
The appliance is the latest offering in Logitech's growing UC portfolio. In an interview with eWEEK in June, Mike Langberg, senior public relations manager for Logitech, said the company sees an opportunity in the UC market to address what he called "the last inch to unified communications"—the space between the endpoint and user. While vendors like Cisco, Microsoft, ShoreTel and Avaya are growing their UC portfolios with hardware and software offerings that enable customers to user their PCs and mobile devices for unified communications, Logitech is making such products as headphones, keyboards and mice that make those platform easier to use, Langberg said.
"To us, unified communications look like a big transition … both to our company and to the enterprise customers we're addressing," he said.
The Mobile Speakerphone P710e, which will be available in November starting at $169.99, fits in with that strategy.
The UC market looks poised for significant growth over the next few years, due in part to such trends as mobility, video and the cloud. IDC analysts are forecasting the market to grow from $26.2 billion this year to almost $38 billion by 2016.
Logitech already has a presence in the space. The company in 2009 bought video conferencing equipment vendor LifeSize Communications for $405 million, the first real foray for the consumer product vendor into the corporate world. Two years later, Logitech formed a business unit focused on commercial offerings.
Earlier this year, Logitech unveiled a number of UC-focused products, including the USB H650e headset and the C930e Webcam. The company also offers its UC Solution for Cisco 725-C, a combination keyboard, mouse and Webcam optimized for Cisco Jabber environments.