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Verizon’s Decision to Sunset BlueJeans: A Strategic Shift

Verizon's Decision to Sunset BlueJeans: A Strategic Shift

The News: In a mass email sent in early August to current BlueJeans customers, Verizon has announced that it will be shutting down BlueJeans, with the free trial and “BlueJeans Basic” tier to be discontinued as of August 31. The company cited a “changing market landscape” as the reason for the decision.

In May 2020, Verizon acquired BlueJeans, a business-focused video conferencing app initially launched in 2011. Despite efforts to increase its user base, including a partnership with Google and the introduction of a free tier, the app did not gain significant popularity.

The story was first made public on August by 9TO5Google.com and later confirmed on August 16 by a modest BlueJeans blog update disclosing that the services will be retired in the first half of 2024.

Verizon’s Decision to Sunset BlueJeans: A Strategic Shift

Analyst Take: Verizon’s announcement to discontinue BlueJeans, its video conferencing service, has created a buzz in the Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) space. Acquired in April 2020, BlueJeans was Verizon’s attempt to capture a share of the video conferencing and collaboration market that boomed during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, less than 3 years into the acquisition, Verizon has decided to pivot away from directly offering a video conferencing service to its customers. It is a fascinating development, highlighting the challenges of competing in an increasingly saturated market and Verizon’s strategy to focus on its core competencies.

The Shift to a Partnership Model

One of the most notable outcomes of Verizon’s decision is its shift to a partnership model with Google Workspace and Cisco Webex. This marks a clear shift from owning the entire value chain to leveraging partnerships for delivering comprehensive solutions. In an update to the analyst community, Alex Doyle, VP of Products, stated that the decision to discontinue BlueJeans aligns with its focus on core strengths rather than trying to compete in an overcrowded market. The partnership model allows Verizon to integrate more seamlessly with widely-used platforms while avoiding the operational complexities and financial burden of running a standalone service.

Leading with a Mobile-First Strategy

Another critical insight from Verizon’s briefing is the company’s intention to leverage its strengths in mobile technologies. Doyle emphasized Verizon’s Operator Connect and Mobile for Microsoft Teams solutions as examples of the commitment to mobile-first solutions. This approach is consistent with Verizon’s longstanding strength in mobile networks and technology and presents a promising avenue for future growth. With remote work becoming more mobile and less office-bound, Verizon could capitalize on this shift to gain an edge over competitors that lack robust mobile networks and capabilities.

Competing and Coexisting

Verizon’s transition also brings up the broader dynamics of competition and coexistence in the UCaaS space. The decision to sunset BlueJeans does not necessarily reflect a complete withdrawal from the video conferencing and collaboration market. Instead, it highlights Verizon’s strategic decision to compete selectively, emphasizing solutions where the company has a distinct advantage. This strategy also indirectly benefits competitors by removing one more player from an already-saturated market, which includes big names like Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and others.

Unanswered Questions and Future Strategy

However, it is worth noting that the announcement has left a few questions unanswered. Verizon has been tight-lipped about what its internal teams will use as a replacement for BlueJeans. Doyle also noted that Verizon may still provide custom-built video solutions for niche markets such as healthcare or large public events like the Indianapolis 500 or the Super Bowl. How this approach will evolve and what role Verizon will play in these spaces remains to be seen.

The sunsetting of BlueJeans by Verizon is a significant development that will impact the competitive landscape of the UCaaS market. It is a calculated strategic shift aimed at leveraging partnerships and focusing on core strengths, particularly in mobile-first solutions. How this strategy unfolds will be keenly watched in the months to come.

Disclosure: The Futurum Group is a research and advisory firm that engages or has engaged in research, analysis, and advisory services with many technology companies, including those mentioned in this article. The author does not hold any equity positions with any company mentioned in this article.

Analysis and opinions expressed herein are specific to the analyst individually and data and other information that might have been provided for validation, not those of The Futurum Group as a whole

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Author Information

As Practice Lead - Workplace Collaboration, Craig focuses on developing research, publications and insights that clarify how the workforce, the workplace, and the workflows enable group collaboration and communication. He provides research and analysis related to market sizing and forecasts, product and service evaluations, market trends, and end-user and buyer expectations. In addition to following the technology, Craig also studies the human elements of work - organizing his findings into the workforce, the workplace, and the workflows – and charting how these variables influence technologies and business strategies.

Prior to joining Wainhouse, now a part of The Futurum Group, Craig brings twenty years of experience in leadership roles related to P&L management, product development, strategic planning, and business development of security, SaaS, and unified communication offerings. Craig's experience includes positions at Poly, Dell, Microsoft, and IBM.

Craig holds a Master of Business Administration from the Texas McCombs School of Business as well as a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Tulane University.

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