Of Dinosaurs And Telephones

Traditional business telephony, a category that now (at least in my book) includes IP-based on-premises phone systems as well as more traditional PBXes, took it on the chin again in the first quarter of this year, according to a recently released report from research house Infonetics Research. In a press release touting their 1Q13 “Enterprise Unified Communications and Voice Equipment” report, Infonetics says that the global enterprise PBX market was down 9% from the last quarter of 2012, and down 10% from a year ago.

The market is still hefty in size, at $1.8 billion for the quarter, but what I’m hearing reminds me of the demise of the once-dominant massive mainframe computers of yore, the dinosaurs of the computer age.

Meanwhile, Infonetics also reports healthy demand, worldwide, for unified communications (UC), with UC revenues up 21% year over year.

So what do we make of this.

The way I read it, it’s telling me that business telephony is moving in two directions. For the small and medium-sized business world, it’s moving into a purely cloud-based solution, with virtual PBXes completely replacing traditional on-premises key systems on the lowest end, and small PBX switches as one moves slightly upscale. And of course that’s exactly where Phone.com is targeted.

The other direction, favored by large corporations, is to host their own networks, on which they combine voice, video and data for their corporate needs – unified communications, if you will. But even here, it’s important to remember that while the largest of corporations may be able to put offices everywhere on the globe, their networks can’t always reach those places. So even the big companies need cloud-based communications carriers, again such as Phone.com, to help tie those outlying offices into their fancy new unified communications schemes.