A very insightful article by Sandra M. Gustavsen an analyst at G Business Systems, the original reference can be found at the following link:
December 1, 2016 // Knowledge, Op Ed, Opinion, Phones/End Points, Press Releases, SR 12-4 original
by Sandra M. Gustavsen, Analyst at G Business Systems, LLC (www.gbusinessvoip.com)
The office desk phone is not obsolete – not yet. Though market statistics continue to show the steady decline in TDM (analog and digital) desk telephone shipments, IP desktop phones seem to be holding their own for now. According to the Q2 2016 statistics from market research firm MZA Telecom & IT Analysts, IP extensions/licenses grew a modest 4% year-over-year, while TDM extensions fell by 8%.
Business communications vendors are closely monitoring the market and the growing preference for softphones and mobile devices; and thus, directing more of their research and development dollars into software and applications. But, at the same time, there is general agreement that hard-wired endpoints still have the advantage over a mobile device when it comes to high quality audio, recording and speakerphone capabilities and remain an important requirement in today’s conference rooms and during critical business conversations.
The dilemma – or downside – for users is that while the office desk phone excels at audio quality, it typically lacks the convenience, intuitiveness and ease-of-use of a mobile smartphone which has become our preferred device for quick and easy management of communications. The solution? Combine the best of the mobile smartphone experience with the high quality audio of an office telephone, creating a more contemporary desktop device. And, a number of business communications manufacturers are doing just that – developing and rolling out “next-generation” IP-based and SIP-based phones that better meet today’s user expectations.
Here are some of the latest market entries:
Avaya Vantage is a new “all glass” desktop endpoint designed to function like a mobile device with a large (8-inch) capacitive touch-screen for access to business applications, phone features and contacts (no mechanical buttons). Vantage will run Avaya’s new Equinox client application and can embed Android-based business applications developed with Avaya’s Breeze Client SDK that are customized to suit particular industry verticals such as healthcare, hospitality or retail, or personalized according to specialized business or user requirements. (Avaya recently introduced Equinox as a single client app for desktop and mobile devices to replace multiple earlier client offers – Communicator, Flare, OneX and Scopia). Vantage will also support multimedia conferencing via an integrated video camera as Avaya Aura Conferencing (AAC) and the Scopia video conferencing solution merge to become part of the Equinox software. General availability for developers is planned for January 2017, with availability for customers deploying Equinox for Vantage expected in March 2017.
Compatibility and Pricing: Vantage will initially be compatible with the premises-based Avaya Aura 7 platform; cloud support is planned for the first half of 2017. Compatibility with Avaya IP Office 11.0 is also planned. List pricing is $449 with the integrated camera ($429 without a camera); options for cordless or corded handset kits are priced separately.
ESI’s new ePhone7 is a “contact-centric” device (no physical buttons) designed for managers, executives and operators. Contacts are organized and displayed on a large 7-inch color touchscreen in four categories – Personal, Coworkers, Favorites and Groups – without any need to program speed dials or DSS keys. Personal contacts can be imported from a Google account, and Coworkers and Groups are automatically synchronized with the extensions and departments that are provisioned in the system. ePhone7 also integrates ESI’s eLocation feature that displays a contact’s presence status (on a call, do not disturb, available, etc.), but also whether a coworker is physically in the building (in the office or away). Common business calling features (transfer, hold, park, record, mute, etc.) are simple one-touch buttons as are call history, missed voicemails and easy access to dialing.
Compatibility and Pricing: The ePhone7 has been in beta with ESI’s eCloud PBX customers, with general availability expected soon. All eCloud PBX user seat plans include an ESI SIP phone (the ESI 30SIP or 45SIP) in the seat price, but as an option, customers with Select or Premier seats can upgrade to the more advanced ePhone7 for a one-time non-recurring fee of $150.
Mitel’s new MiVoice 6940 IP Phone is the advanced model in the company’s new “mobile-first” IP Phone series. Designed as a state-of-the-art IP Phone for busy executives with a mobile work style, the 6940 pairs the desktop phone with the user’s mobile device using Mitel’s MobileLink capability and an embedded Bluetooth interface to synchronize the contacts on both devices. Calls to the mobile phone can be answered on the 6940, and vice versa. There is support initially for Apple iOS and Android smartphones, with additional smartphones planned. Other notable features include a 7-inch color touch display, Mitel Hi-Q Audio technology, a speech-optimized cordless Bluetooth handset, 96 programmable personal keys and a built-in USB port that can be used to charge the mobile device. A WLAN adapter and color expansion module are optional.
Compatibility and Pricing: MiVoice 6940 uses Mitel’s IP MiNet protocol and is currently available for the premises-based MiVoice Business platform, with availability for MiCloud Business and MiCloud Enterprise expected shortly. Mitel has plans for a SIP version that will work on additional premises and cloud platforms in 2017. List pricing is US$550.
NEC’s next generation UT880 desktop telephone combines a traditional desktop phone and an Android tablet into one device designed to enable easy access to NEC’s UC Suite Client with a corporate directory, presence, instant messaging unified messaging and call control. The UT880 has a 7-inch color touch-screen, an integrated Bluetooth capability, a built-in camera, a USB port along with an integrated video camera that enables two-way video conferencing. Virtual receptionists, for example, can greet visitors through the display from a remote location. NEC and its partners are actively developing business applications that run on the phone, including some unique, converged applications such as incorporating NEC’s biometrics solutions (facial recognition) for security purposes or for recognizing priority guests in a retail or hospitality environment.
Compatibility and Pricing: The UT880 is available with NEC’s premises-based UNIVERGE SV9000 communication servers and UNIVERGE 3C software-based platforms and will be available soon for the UNIVERGE BLUE cloud-based telephony service. List pricing is $699 MSRP.
Unify (formerly Siemens Enterprise and now part of European IT service company Atos) introduced a new SIP-based OpenScape Desk Phone CP (Communication Point) family in 2016, including two higher-end models (CP400 and CP600) for users with collaborative needs. These phones can interoperate with the company’s Circuit team collaboration application, making it possible for the desk phone user to participate as a team member in a Circuit conversation. (Circuit is Unify’s software-as-a-service (SaaS) collaboration platform that combines voice, video, screen sharing, messaging and file sharing into a single user interface; see the related write-up on team collaboration for more detail). Additionally, the phones deliver HD voice quality for calls and audio conferences and “swiveling” color graphic displays. The CP600 also has Bluetooth connectivity, Near Field Communication (NFC) for pairing the desk phone to a smartphone, and support for Eddystone Beacon technology (provided by Google) for exchanging information between desk phones and mobile devices.
Compatibility and Pricing: The CP family can be used with Unify’s OpenScape Voice platform, cloud or premises-based deployments. List pricing for the CP600 is €340 (about $360USD).
We can expect to see additional next-gen business phones in the coming year. Stay tuned.