By Sandra M. Gustavsen, Analyst, Business VoIP
Major communications vendors continue to introduce UC clients running on computers and popular consumer mobile devices (the ‘bring your own device’ or BYOD trend). Earlier this year, Avaya announced the Flare Communicator for iPad tablets as the first version of the Avaya Flare technology on a consumer tablet device (general availability was January 16, 2012; more devices are planned).
Microsoft (News - Alert) introduced support for the Lync 2010 client on its Windows Phone in December 2011, as well as on iPhone, iPad, Android and Nokia Symbian mobile devices; RIM is developing a Lync application for BlackBerry devices.
Several other vendors, namely Aastra (News - Alert), Alcatel-Lucent, Cisco and ShoreTel, previewed new UC clients at the recent Enterprise Connect 2012 conference, most of which are due out in mid-to late 2012.
Aastra is expanding its BluStar portfolio, adding support for this technology across a number of devices, including PCs, laptops and Apple iOS devices. The first product in the line, the BluStar 8000i media phone, was made available in November 2011 in North America and Western Europe.
BluStar 8000i is a personal video phone that combines audio, HD video conferencing and unified communications into a single functional desktop display device. Aastra is now introducing this collaboration technology as client software for other devices, including a UC client for the Windows PC and for Apple’s iPhone (News - Alert) and iPad, making it possible for users – especially remote workers – to choose the device that is most convenient for them and be able to collaborate with colleagues using video (2-way video initially; 3-way video later in 2012 for the Windows PC client).
The BluStar Windows PC client is expected to be available in second quarter 2012; the Apple iOS client for iPhones and iPads will release during the second half of 2012 as a subset of the PC client features focused on 2-party video calling. The BluStar clients will be available for the following Aastra call managers: Aastra 5000, MX-ONE and Aastra 400.
Alcatel-Lucent (www.alcatel-lucent.com) OpenTouch Conversation is the company’s new UC client that will enable a range of voice, video, instant messaging and data sharing capabilities across PCs and popular consumer devices, beginning with the Apple iPad in June 2012. OpenTouch Conversation builds on the OpenTouch architecture that Alcatel-Lucent introduced last November for mid-size and larger businesses.
The technology concept is to allow users to continue conversations across multiple devices, including desktop phones, smartphones, tablets and PCs, without having to hang up and redial. On the iPad screen, for example, a user can view a graphical timeline of recent, current and future conversations, as well as photos and presence statuses of their contacts, along with a "stage" where the current conversation takes place. Users will click on the screen to easily switch a chat session to a voice conversation or a video conference (the OpenTouch platform supports up to 94 participants). Individuals are therefore capable of starting a voice call on an office phone, seamlessly moving the conversation to a video conference on a PC or tablet and then to a mobile phone if desired.
The OpenTouch Conversation client application will become available on the Apple iPad in June 2012, followed by clients for Windows PCs and the Mac operating system later in 2012. The iPhone client will be available for download at the end of 2012 or beginning of 2013. OpenTouch Conversation clients compatible with Android-based tablets and Android-, Microsoft Windows- and BlackBerry (News - Alert)-based smartphones are expected in 2013.
Cisco is extending the Jabber UC application to Apple iPad tablets and Windows PC platforms, adding to its Jabber portfolio which already includes UC clients for Android, iPhone, Mac, BlackBerry and Cisco Cius. Users can collaborate using a variety of modes, including presence, instant messaging (IM), voice and video, voice messaging (visual voicemail), desktop sharing and conferencing from these popular consumer devices, PCs and laptops (note that video and desktop sharing are not part of the Jabber client for smartphones). Cisco Jabber users can also join Cisco TelePresence and WebEx sessions natively from their PC or mobile device (Cisco TelePresence and WebEx are separately purchased).
Cisco acquired Jabber in 2008 and began incorporating the Jabber presence and IM technology into its on-premises solutions and cloud-based services, and has since developed a standards-based (H264, SIP, XMPP) UC client that combines federated presence and IM, but also incorporates other modes of communication.
Cisco Jabber for iPad has three deployment options: IM only, Voice/Video or IM/Voice/Video. Cisco Jabber for Windows has the added benefits of HD video, desktop sharing and integration with Microsoft Office, Outlook and SharePoint.
Cisco Jabber for Windows is available as of April 16, 2012, and Jabber for iPad is due out in second quarter 2012.
ShoreTel announces the M5 Communicator, a UC application for the PC or Mac desktop computer. The application is part of the M5 Unified Communications (News - Alert) Suite, a cloud-based telephony service acquired by ShoreTel in March 2012. M5 Networks is an established hosted provider based in New York that now operates as a separate ShoreTel business unit (ShoreTel’s Cloud Division), offering a hosted UC service for the 5-500 user market. The new M5 Communicator UC client is accessible from the M5 user’s PC or Mac computer and enables point-to-point voice and video calling, screen sharing, file transfer, instant messaging and presence status information about other user’s on the system – all from a single interface.
ShoreTel’s M5 Communicator is to be available to M5 customers in April 2012.
Edited by Braden Becker