A recent post at Telecom Reseller (News - Alert) discusses the fate of IP phones. While it says that some online news sources have slated them to be doomed to the evolutionary dustbin, others have marveled at the flexibility of SIP technology and the transformation of IP phones that conform to the changing nature of the business world. It is impossible to truly predict the future, but the prevalence of SIP technology and its wide-reaching effect on global businesses may, in fact, be a better predictor of the lives of desk phones than any other information currently available.
Desk phones of the past were often mass-produced machines that attempted to meet the needs of many different businesses and their departments by becoming multi-use devices. Telecom Reseller says these phones -- ones such as the Nortel (News - Alert) Meridian, that gray-on-beige box -- "did a lot of things, but none of them really well."
The status quo has changed, though, and IP phones are more advanced than ever. They have come a long way since the Meridian, and modern technology has made it possible to create both desk phones and mobile phones that can utilize SIP trunking architecture by manipulating that service with hardware and software. Devices like the Interactive Intelligence (News - Alert) SIP Station provide users with just enough buttons to complete tasks which are specific to their jobs. In this case, the SIP Station allows call center representatives to make and receive calls with a small keypad, and its small size and limited functionality makes it cost effective for call centers to purchase in mass quantities.
On the other end of the spectrum, the AudioCodes UC440HD IP Phone (News - Alert) for Lync can sync with a user's desktop to provide "buddy list" controls, speakerphone capabilities, and a seamless link between the phone and the Lync desktop client.
Telecom Reseller believes that these types of advances will keep the IP phone around for many years to come. Yes, the desktop phone does face some competition with mobile phone technology -- especially those mobile devices which can use the SIP architecture. Mobile phones are slowly replacing home phones in the consumer world, and that could definitely reveal itself as a strong predictor for what might happen in the business world.
However, despite advances in mobile, desk phones still make themselves widely useful because of their versatile and necessary nature. As this article has pointed out, desk phones can provide tremendous functionality with respect to handling unified communications; some phones can even allow users to participate in video conferences. For as long as employees continue to work at their desks, their desk phones will likely be an irreplaceable part of their working experiences.
For the time being, IP-based desk phones also have the advantage of never losing power. Although users can plug their mobile phones into outlets, desk phones provide an ease of use in some aspects that mobile phones cannot yet match. They are comfortably-sized, and they are assuredly a staple of UC. Mobile phones will continue to press hard for dominance, but they will not overtake desk phones just yet.
Edited by Alisen Downey