The office phone is dead !

by Jeff Wiener on November 2, 2009

Dead PhoneNotice the headline doesn’t say the “office phone system” is dead. I would be an idiot to proclaim the death of the very technology I make my living selling. No, I don’t think the office phone system is dead. But, I do believe that we’re nearing the end of the life of the “office phone set”.

You know, the clunky piece of technology that sits on your desk. The damn thing that rings all day, and even more when I get home from work. It won’t leave me alone !

Yes, that thing. Dead you say ? Why ?

Humans have an insatiable need to speak with other humans. Funny how that works ! It is of course much easier to get some stuff done via human “speaking” interaction. Email is convenient but will never replace the need to speak with someone. So the good news, at least for those of us that sell phone systems, is that people will always need to speak. And as long as they need to speak we will have some device that they need to speak into.

Cisco 7975Some device.

If you ask Cisco, Avaya, Mitel, NEC … they will want to convince you that the phone set needs to be bigger, better, more buttons, with a flashier display. And the Cisco 7975 for example, which by the way is a beautiful phone, is also a very expensive phone. But, do we really need an HTML, XML, full color phone ? Why ? The Cisco 7975 is $800 ! You can get a full almost high end desktop PC with a flat screen monitor, keyboard, mouse, OS, and video camera for under $800. So why do we need these clunky phones ?

Because the manufacturers say we do ?

Because some executives like the flashy sets – it’s good for their ego ?

Well, the reality is, those answers just won’t do moving forward.

I have written about this before in a post called: What does Telecom 2.0 look like ?

Speaking along the lines of paradigm shift, the next generation of phone systems will be a highly intelligent server, much as they are now. The talk/communicate medium will not necessarily be the bulky phone on your desk, but rather a variety of end point devices. Dumb phone, really smart software client controlling the dumb phone.

What’s the dumb phone look like ? Probably a basic handset, low price, with a full duplex high fidelity speakerphone. OR, a smartphone connected via SIP to the phone system.

And the software ?

There are several client software versions already available that do exactly what I am talking about:
Avaya has Phone Manager Pro for the IP Office, and One-X Portal (which is a web based GUI).
Cisco has Call Connector Personal for their UCME.
ShoreTel has Personal Call Manager.

We still need phone systems to bridge all of this technology together. Server, client, dumb phone, video … but, we don’t need the high end devices sitting on your desk. We need a simple handset controlled by some very intelligent back-end.

And that’s why I proclaim the death of the phone on your desk. It’s not completely dead, just almost dead !

Luckily for companies like that sell phone systems, the world is getting more interesting.

Did you like this post ? You might also like this one (Telecom 2.0).

Written by: Jeff Wiener. Follow by: RSS, Twitter,, or Friendfeed

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Cisco introduces high end full video phone - Cisco 9900 series —
November 9, 2009 at 5:02 pm

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PierreH March 30, 2011 at 6:32 am

Dear Jeff,
You need to speak to your CAm over at Avaya. Your claim and to bunch the folks at Avaya into a bushell with the rest of them claiming we are all trying to sell over inflated, costly desktop devices “phones” is off course.
Take a look at what we are touting on the IP Office platform for example refered to as productivity software “Office Worker” for starters. Take the most basic set (well under $100) and add “Office Worker” well under $100 and you get more feature/functionnality/ease of use than any high end desktop sets. Read on brother..

Jeff Wiener March 30, 2011 at 7:38 am

Pierre: Thanks for your comment. Maybe you should read the post once again. My comment is … The office phone is dead, not the office phone system. The reason I believe the office phone is dead is because desktop applications, things like One-X Portal from Avaya, Desktop Suite from NEC, Cisco … are replacing the handset. That was the very reason for this post!


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