Mobile VoIP at ITExpo
TMC organizes ITExpo twice a year, usually in Florida in February and in the fall in Los Angeles. Brockmann & Company attended the show in Florida as an analyst and consultant where I caught up with many interesting companies and the people who are at the center of them. This is my first post about the event, which ended on Wednesday last week. Rich Tehrani gave away a Jeep on Wednesday afternoon, which certainly kept the attendees keen to stick around and visit the show floor one more time. No doubt they learned something too.
I did manage to go through the exhibit floor a few times and even built a video montage, but frankly, I spent most of the time in the conference.
One of the sessions I attended was a panel on Mobile VoIP, moderated by Michael Stamford. Of course, I arrived late, but caught the middle of the presentation by Peter Anderholm of Alcatel-Lucent. Peter came to the company with the eDial acquisition in 2004 and shared some of the strength of Alca-Lu – #1 in western Europe enterprise telephony, #1 in contact center software (Genesys was acquired by Alcatel in 2000) and described the core features of the OmniPCX enterprise communications server and their mobile offering for enterprise.
Micah Singer of VoIPLogic commented on his company's core positioning (same as my blog post on the company), and commented that his customers haven't asked for mobile voip service capabilities. They're focused on the hosted services and the packaging of value added offerings for their communities. Offerings that integrate that core VoIP offering with mobile capabilities weren't visible to the wholesaler, and he suggested that it probably wasn't a priority for their customers.
Broadsoft talked about how they (as did Alcatel-Lucent) enable hot desking and dual-forking (desk and mobile phone rings simultaneously) with Microsoft OCS. Not really mobile VoIP to me.
Vivek Khullar, CEO of Divitas, did something completely different. Instead of plugging his laptop into the projector like everybody else, Vivek plugged his Nokia E95 into the projector and proceeded to walk through his product demonstration – showing presence, showing mobile messaging and basically showing off mobile VoIP. Excellent approach! Unique and impactful!
Vivek and I spoke afterwards about the pains of executing a VoIP client on a mobile device, and as I understood it, plans to broaden his device support list beyond Windows Mobile and Symbian to include IM, presence and call notification on non-WiFi mobile devices. (Something that FirstHand (now CounterPath) showed the world two years ago). Uniquely, as compared to CounterPath, the Divitas solution addresses those enterprise customers and channels that value IP PBX independence. CounterPath is OEMing their software into Nortel and NEC Unified Communications offerings.
Among the questions from the audience was the most valuable feature of mobile VoIP is the click-to-conference.
From my vantage point, complex and expensive solutions that miss out on the hot devices – BlackBerry, iPhone, G1, Nokia in Europe – will struggle to deliver their value to large quantifies of business users (note no Windows devices here…. hmmmm), since users will rely on more clicks for this or that, or SMS to do what they need to have done. It's tough to pay extra to avoid a few clicks here and there, especially in these trying economic times.
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