Polycom (Nasdaq: PLCM) has turned the tables on the teleconferencing market. Or is Hewlett-Packard's (NYSE: HPQ) CEO just playing to his strengths?

The minuscule teleconferencing specialist has agreed to buy HP's Visual Collaboration division for $89 million. This deal was supposed to go the other way around, as cash-rich HP seeks plug-in acquisitions, but that wasn't in the cards.

Instead, HP is shedding a hardware unit. That makes plenty of sense, given fresh-faced CEO Leo Apotheker's software-heavy background. Why not trim down a few low-margin hardware units and refocus on what the boss knows best?

The deal makes Polycom the go-to solution for HP customers with an interest in teleconferencing, and includes a two-way commitment to provide Polycom applications for HP's WebOS platform. Before you scoff at that idea, remember that HP has extended that software from a pure-play mobile platform onto stationary gear such as printers. Teleconferencing systems would just be another step in that journey away from HP-Palm's now insignificant stake in the smartphone industry.

The agreement also precludes any kind of relationship -- acquisitive or otherwise -- between Polycom and chief rival Cisco Systems (Nasdaq: CSCO). If there is a more heated rivalry in Silicon Valley than that of Cisco and HP in the era of Cisco-branded server systems, I haven't been told. Spherical green pigs will party with angry, red birds before those two sit down to sing "Kumbaya" again.

Teleconferencing is suddenly hot again, after Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) spent $8.5 billion to acquire video-and-voice communicator Skype. Another Icelandic ash cloud stretching across Europe also heightens the videochat industry's profile while it lasts. So it's not surprising to see Polycom strike a deal -- though the way it all worked out might raise a few eyebrows.

Be ready to put two and two together the next time Polycom makes a seemingly unpredictable move. Just add Polycom and a few key rivals to your Foolish watchlist, and you won't miss a thing:

Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Cisco Systems, Microsoft, and Polycom as well as creating a diagonal call position in Microsoft. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.

Fool contributor Anders Bylund holds no position in any of the companies discussed here. The Motley Fool owns shares of Microsoft and has created a bull call spread position on Cisco Systems. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. You can check out Anders' holdings and a concise bio if you like, and The Motley Fool is investors writing for investors.