Home Industry Strategy Avaya's new media phone: where the iPhone meets the desk phone


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Avaya last week demonstrated its new business desk phone, the 9670G and with an icon driven touch screen, virtual touch-operated qwerty keyboard and downloadable apps it epitomises how the new generation of business phones is melding features of the latest mobile devices with those of traditional desk phones.

The 9670G, launched globally in March, is billed as a device for the 'essential' user: someone, according to Avaya, "who is constantly on the phone, handling multiple calls and is often mobile."

Like the iPhone, and many other touch-screen mobile devices, the screen of the 9670G provides quick access to embedded applications. Those supplied as standard include voice dialing, weather, world clock, and calculator. And, as with mobile devices, a software development kit enables customers or third party developers to produce and embed their own applications.

According to Avaya the overall result of the touch interface is "highly functional and intuitive and requires little user training to make or forward calls, create conference calls, manage contacts, launch applications, access the call log and execute many other necessary tasks."

There are also practical aspects to the similarities between the 9670G's screen and those of popular mobile devices. The product is part of Avaya's One-X strategy designed to unify corporate communications across fixed, cellular and WiFi enabling calls to switched from one medium to another and for a wireless device to function as PBX extension, cellphone and cordless handset.

Providing access to the huge range of features available from the normal PBX desk phone via a cellphone is challenging for manufacturers, and for users. With its one-X strategy, Avaya aims to standardise this interface across all devices by using a common menu structure. "With the Avaya one-X series, the user has a common interface across all endpoint devices – desk phone, cellphone, computer and PDA," it claims. "The Avaya 9670G makes it easy to shift a call from the desk phone to the cellphone and vice versa – while the call is in progress – eliminating the inconvenience of having to call back in order to switch devices."

The 9670G is one of the first of a new generation of devices dubbed media phones. In February market research firm, In-Stat produced a free research report, "The Media Phone Has Arrived!"  available here . It predicted that "The media phone represents a new category of broadband multimedia device." It identified the primary market for these being in the home saying that media phones "have the potential to become the fourth screen in the home, complementing the PC, TV, and mobile handset."

However, In-Stat also forecast that specialised media phones would emerge in the business market , replacing the current middle and high-end IP telephones and supporting multimedia applications that require the always-on, high-performance operation delivered by desktop telephones.

In-Stat cited OpenPeak's ProFrame business media phone introduced in January 2009 as one of th first products in this category. When it announced the 9670G in March, however, Avaya claimed it to be the first media phone for enterprises.

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