Future of the Phone


I love prognosticating, though I am not sure if I am any better at it than PunxsutawneyPhil. But I’ve been enjoying my run with NoJitter.comon the future of the phone. As a voice/telecom dude, I love phones. I have way too many of them. Besides the pay phone (in booth) in my yard, I have two active phones on my desk and more phones in my home than most would consider healthy.

This week, I contributed my latest forecast for the enterprise desk phone. [Future of the Phone: Bring Your Own]My current position is the cell phone will begin to replace enterprise desk phones. Though this isn’t necessarily bad for UC equipment makers – in fact no worse than SIP phones taking over.
With SIP it will be hard for the traditional vendors to compete with offshore mass production. Dealers and manufacturers have had a great 30 year run with proprietary phones (at 30+ margin points), but the .com SIP superwarehouses are changing up the (SIP phone) model to where a local dealer can’t afford to touch the box.
But the dot coms aren’t the bad guys – times are changing. No one wants the vendor lock of the old days. The model is changing, but hasn’t changed. The issue is proprietary phone makers still have a functional difference over SIP phones and they do an excellent job of controlling their channel. It is still hard to buy an Avaya, Mitel, Shoretel, NEC phone on the web new. But customers are beginning to get suspicious.
That functionality gap is getting smaller and smaller. I had hoped to see proprietary phones evolve more with new extraordinary features that justify themselves – but that just isn’t happening. The fact is, most of us just use speaker, redial, hold, and transfer. So why not buy a Polycom, Snom, Aastra, or other SIP device from an E-tailer?
The answer to that is why bother when you already have a more functional phone on your hip.
I’ve been very impressed with virtual number services. I’ve been using both Google Voice and Mitel’s Dynamic Extension. They make my cell phone my business phone by delivering PBX-like features. Google is more consumer focused, but Mitel’s feature set (to the cell) is pretty rich – about the same as the desktop phone.
But its more than that – its about how we LOVE our cell phones – they are personal, they are extensions (pun coincidental) to us. So if everyone has a cell phone, and virtual number services allow corporate control and enhanced features…. why buy a phone?
This is echoed in the consumer space with the increasing decline of copper phone services. The cell phone wins. Of course this will all change in 20 years with fiber to the home and new requirements, but I don’t want to give away that post just yet.
Check out the NoJitter piece, it has I believe some hard to ignore compelling points.
For more information on the consumer landline trends:

Dave Michels