Avaya Leaps Into Tablet Wars

by Jordan Richardson on September 16, 2010

Despite calling itself a “software company,” Avaya is leaping feet-first into the fray with the Avaya Flare Experience. The tablet (or “non-tablet,” if Michael Finneran has his say) is exclusively designed to go toe-to-toe with Cisco Cius communications tablet.

How it will fare is hard to say, but Avaya is throwing an awful lot of mustard behind this curveball.

See, many market analysts agree that tablet computers are becoming the new product of choice in the tech sector. With Apple’s iPad blasting out to the front of the pack, it was only a matter of time before other tablet computers began to emerge from the depths.

In terms of Avaya’s market entry, it looks like it’s going to get interesting. For starters, Avaya is marketing its Avaya Desktop Video Device as an “experience.” This tablet is designed to encompass the user in his or her personal workspace and, from there, work with a wide variety of communications and information tools.

The unit is equipped with Avaya’s unified communications software and a new interface called the “Flare User Experience.”

This “User Experience” is designed to provide immediate access to all sorts of multimedia business applications, including instant conferences in HD and so forth.

One of Avaya’s aces in the hole here is certainly the use of Android. This allows applications to be written to the tablet quickly and should allow for sleek use while balancing a number of processes.

The goal here is to provide a streamlined “behind-the-scenes” foundation on which Avaya’s “people-centric” tablet can operate. The company’s goal, according to Blair Pleasant’s assessment, is to make business communications less about the devices and more about the old-fashioned stuff – like the people.

The risk is that it takes a device to make it “not about the device, so the unit has to be lightweight and simple enough to make those standard business communications complications disappear. It’s hard to fully appreciate this without actually working with the tablet, but it’s not hard to admire Avaya’s proposed end result.

In effect, Avaya is using the unit to send a message: communications isn’t all about the device. This, perhaps ironically, takes an incredible amount of confidence in said device and that’s something Avaya appears to have in spades at the moment.

Specification-wise, the Avaya device is a 11.6” Android-based touch screen device running touch-and-swipe controls. It runs an HD camera with HD video and audio working from dual microphones. The Android-based tablet will support Android-compliant apps and enterprise mobility support, which includes WiFi, VPN and SIP.

Note: Some, including myself, have been mistakenly calling the device the “Avaya Flare.”

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Blair September 16, 2010 at 6:24 pm

Thanks for quoting me and linking to my article, but I do need to make a correction to your article. The device (tablet or not) is not Flare – the device has the exciting name of the Avaya Desktop Video Device. This is separate from Flare, which really is the experience (I know, it’s confusing). For the first release, Flare will work only with the Avaya Desktop Video Device, but will be brought to other devices and desktops shortly, including, presumably, the iPad, as well as various mobile devices. Hope this helps!

Jordan Richardson September 16, 2010 at 9:29 pm

It is indeed confusing, especially when even Tim Greene from NetworkWorld says “Called Avaya Flare, the unit is mobile with a battery that supports hi-def video for three hours and can be tethered to a desk via a docking station.”

This release, though, confirms what you’ve said about the “Avaya Flare Experience.” I’ll make the necessary adjustments. Thanks for the clarification, Blair.

Jordan Richardson September 17, 2010 at 6:06 am

This article from Matt Hamblen at Computerworld is also interesting. He says: “Avaya had barely announced its new portable video device on Wednesday when just about everybody started calling it the Flare Tablet.” Confusing is an understatement.

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