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August 10, 2007


NEC Corp. Acquires Sphere Communications

By Mae Kowalke, TMCnet Senior Editor


Because it is still relatively new, the IP communications marketplace continues to experience a good deal of fluctuations and jockeying—often involving mergers and acquisitions. The latest moment in this ongoing drama occurred this week with NEC Corp. announcing its acquisition of Sphere Communications (News - Alert).
 
The deal is worth $42 million. Sphere’s offices in Lincolnshire will remain intact with Graeme Robinson keeping his position as CEO. The company is being integrated into NEC’s (News - Alert) Enterprise Solutions Business Unit.
 
Sphere, which is based in Lincolnshire, Illinois, develops communications software for service oriented architecture (SOA)-based systems. The company was founded in 1994 and distributes its products in more than 15 countries through a network of channel partners including Adtech Global Solutions, DirectAccess Systems, Netusa and ReView Video.
 
The flagship product line offered by Sphere is its Sphericall IP PBX. This product line is marketed to large enterprises. The company also targets small and medium-sized businesses with its Sphere Business Communications System and OEMs/ISVs/developers with its Sphere Communications Services Engine.
 
NEC, meanwhile, describes itself as a provider of Internet, broadband network and enterprise business solutions. The company is a public, global operation with more than 150,000 employees. It markets its products as tailored solutions for companies in the computer, networking and electronic device industries. Headquarters are in Japan, with regional offices in North America, Latin America, Asia Pacific, the Middle East, Europe and Oceania.
 
Semiconductor manufacturing is also a big part of NEC’s operations, through its NEC Electronics Corporation division.
 
NEC said in its announcement that the acquisition of Sphere is a move to accelerate its enterprise IP communications solutions business—a fairly new industry for the company.
 
Yasushiro Watanabe, general manager of NEC’s UC software development division, said Sphere’s technology will help strengthen NEC’s network software portfolio. The acquisition is a positive development for Sphere, too, which gains some powerful resources for continued development of its products.
 
“It’s clear that our combined strengths will deliver innovative technologies that can deliver the most powerful suite of enterprise communications solutions available in the market,” Sphere CEO Graeme Robinson said of the deal, in a statement to the press.
 
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Mae Kowalke previously wrote for Cleveland Magazine in Ohio and The Burlington Free Press in Vermont. To see more of her articles, please visit Mae Kowalke’s columnist page. Also check out her Wireless Mobility blog.


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