Dallas, Texas is home to one of the largest assortments of communications companies anywhere. Sure, Israel, Silicon Valley, New Jersey, Canada and even Massachusetts have many companies in the space. But, you know what they say about Texas: everything is bigger.
Contrasted to Silicon Valley where companies seem to pop up and then get acquired by Cisco or Oracle (News
) faster than the time it will take you to read this article, Dallas has some telecom companies that have been around for years.
One stop on my most recent trip to Dallas was to check out Iwatsu (News
), a 70+ year-old Japanese phone maker catering to the small and medium-sized business (SMB) market. Although not as well known in the U.S. as it is in Japan, Iwatsu has a reputation for designing solid products.
While at the company's Irving headquarters, I was shown how energy efficient the company's phone systems are. These phones are “greener” than many competitive products thanks to their convection cooling (rather than using fans). Equipment that does not use fans is almost always more reliable, too.
Iwatsu has never been afraid to use advanced technology or to partner with other companies if that means giving their dealers a competitive edge. For example, the company resells a reverse 911 service that makes it possible for many people to be contacted simultaneously in emergencies. This service has been sold to retail companies as well. (For example, car dealers use it to service to quickly contact existing customers when a new model comes out.)
Iwatsu’s focus on phones extends into both TDM and IP. The company’s phones even make it possible to send text messages to TDM endpoints. Plus, Iwatsu is adding Bluetooth capability into some of its models and testing has already been performed with 50 different Bluetooth headsets.
Iwatsu Voice Networks President David Carissimi shows off the Bluetooth features of an Iwatsu phone
The company's gateway server holds applications from call accounting to automatic call distribution (ACD) and includes a software development kit (SDK) and a 90 day free trial for the software. For value added reseller (VARs), this is the ultimate in “puppy dog” sales (giving the puppy to a family to play with for a weekend always means they will come in Monday morning and buy it).
I got a chance to check out Iwatsu’s Precot phone, which sadly is only available in Japan at the moment. It features integrated videoconferencing; a scalable Web browser; touch screen/stylus support; click-to-dial from Web pages; support for soft keyboard, mouse and external monitor; S Video RCA video out/in; and RCA audio out.
The Iwatsu Precot phone
With all these connectors, the phone seems as if it would be as comfortable connected to your home stereo system as sitting on your desk.
Another interesting feature of the device is its ability to control panning and zooming of remote video cameras. This means that you can associate other video cameras with phones on the network — such as a security camera aiming at a hallway phone associated with the hallway phone. So when a call comes in from this extension you could be watching the person making the call.
My Dallas trip was certainly very informative, and seeing Iwatsu’s Precot phone was a highlight. Will companies actually pay for phones with such advanced features? It seems to me that security-based vertical markets are a natural fit for this particular device. This means, schools, government agencies and the military could be very interested in getting their hands on the Precot. I too am certainly hoping I get my hands on one if it does ever show up as a production model in the U.S.
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Rich Tehrani is President and Group Editor-in-Chief of TMC. In addition, he is the Chairman of the world�s best-attended communications conference, INTERNET TELEPHONY Conference & EXPO (ITEXPO). He is also the author of his own communications and technology blog.