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Enterprise Desk Phone Demise? Not Much Evidence Yet

January 21, 2011

By Gary Kim - Contributing Editor

The severe global recession that began late in 2008 and lasted until early 2010 likely damaged business in just about every segment you can think of. Enterprise spending on phone systems likely was no exception. But that's a cyclical issue, and what isn't so clear are longer-term prospects for desktop phones, which some seem to believe are headed for displacement, if not extinction, by mobiles or tablets. 

With the caveat that I don't follow the enterprise phone market closely, it seems premature to talk of the imminent demise of the enterprise desktop phone. That is not to argue against the trend. Most people use both mobiles and desk phones. And while a few brave enterprises have chosen to ditch their desktop phones in favor of mobile handsets, that is the exception rather than the rule. 

“The enterprise telephony market w?? hit hard in 2009 due to the recession, but based on the latest weekly consignment figures ?n? results frοm οur March 2010 survey of North American enterprises ?bοut IP PBX costs, it appears that the bleeding h?? ?tο???d, said Matthias Machowinski, Infoentics Research directing analyst. Businesses expect to increase th??r phone extensions at a slightly higher-than-normal growth rate over the next two years wh??h ??n be attributed to hiring and growth following the recession, Machowinski said. But some observers think desktop phones are a legacy appliance on the way out of use. 

"Hardwired office desktop phones, some costing several hundred dollars apiece, and a very lucrative business for the likes of Cisco, Avaya and others, are on their last legs," argues consultant Jack Gold. He said that enterprise users will follow the pattern set by consumers, where 25 percent of consumers in the United States (and higher in some other countries) have abandoned fixed lines for the convenience of their mobile phones.

Enterprise workers use mobiles when they make sense, desktop phones and apps when they make sense, Skype on PCs when it makes sense, and might in the future start using tablet devices for voice communications when it makes sense. So far, though, there seems no clear and dominant pattern of business users ditching landlines and desktop phones completely. At the moment, it might be more accurate to say that increasing use of mobile and untethered devices is complementary to the desk phone, rather than a full substitute.
Gary Kim is a contributing editor for virtual-pbx. To read more of Gary’s articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Jennifer Russell

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