On the eve of flu season – a time when more and more workers will desire the ability to work remotely at a moment’s notice – the market for advanced IP phones is steadily increasing.
Videoconferencing technology is far cheaper than it used to be, and as the economy improves, more and more small- to mid-sized businesses are loosening their purse strings.
Market research firm InStat predicts that consumer media phones will generate between $4 billion and $8 billion in annual revenue worldwide by 2013. Additionally, InStat predicts that business media phones will generate $3.3 billion in annual revenue worldwide in 2013.
Plus, the introduction of less-costly IP Phone technologies by companies like communications provider LifeSize will make it easier to adopt new technology, according to industry expert Dan Hoffman of M5 Networks (News - Alert), a managed VoIP phone-system provider whose clients include staffing agencies, military academies and restaurants that need optimum voice services.
“The technology will become cheaper and easier to use,” Hoffman said. “And people will become more willing to update their technology as the economy improves in 2010.”
Also in 2010, even more companies are going to want to trade in PBX’s to work with service providers that do everything, Hoffman told TMC (News - Alert).
“Just like a lot of landline phone sales are down, you’re seeing PBX (News - Alert) equipment sales go down too. People just want to buy a service, and the move to IP makes that possible,” Hoffman said.
Room-to-Room videoconferencing might top the list of most-desired IP phone applications. But until recently, the technology was cost-prohibitive for most companies.
“In a room-to-room market, the price points have been very high for mid-size businesses, like $100,000 for a room,” Hoffman said. “We’ve seen some good new companies who have dropped that price to $5,000, so that price point is finally coming down to where mid-size businesses can afford this.”
However, challenges still exist with integrating desktop-based chat applications, like Skype (News - Alert).
“The problem with desktop-to-desktop applications is that to have them with consistent quality, you need very expensive bandwidth. We’re seeing interest but slow adoption there,” Hoffman said. “Right now there’s no business model that really works for mid-size companies.”
Another trend: Mid-size businesses already using IP phones are also upgrading their equipment, as companies like Yealink are unveiling new units. The China-based company’s most recent IP Phone, the VP-2009D, is equipped with a 7-inch color touch screen LCD and 300K-pixels CMOS camera (which enables live-like video conversation by the H.264 codec even at low bandwidth).
It’s ideal for corporate office workers and residential users. Or workers who need to shift settings at a moment’s notice.
“We’re preparing our clients for flu season,” Hoffman says. “People need to anticipate surprise school closures and employees that just can’t get to work ….so people can operate their businesses no matter what craziness occurs.”
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Stefania Viscusi is an assignment editor for TMCnet, covering VoIP, CRM, call center and wireless technologies. To read more of Stefania’s articles, please visit her columnist page.
Edited by Michael Dinan