The USB Phone: Desk Phone of the Future?

After reading several articles about the future of office communications and doing some thinking I am becoming more and more of the opinion that future phone system/UC end point will be PC based. Perhaps not your current PC but more of a PC than a current traditional handset. Perhaps something like a separate netbook form factor unit with a quality handset? Why do I think that?

-Naturally Moving that Way - Take some of the modern SIP handsets out there already: like the Grandstream GVX3140 video phone and maybe the Snom 870. What is common about these? They are taking on the features of a PC: The Grandstream has a built in webcam, small color screen and the ability to plug in a mouse. The snom 870 has a big color touch screen. But in each case, if you are doing heavy UC stuff the user is left feeling like: give me a full keyboard to look up things in the directory with a little speed…or give me a bigger screen so I can realistically see my video conference…

-Affordability – With the low cost of Netbooks, do $1500 handsets for UC make sense?

-Usability – The user being able to discover features. Microsoft OCS is making incredible strides in making features understandable to the masses. How many people can make a 10 person conference call at your company? Maybe the the telecom guy and the goto-geek guy. With OCS (for example) you can just drag the people you want into a conference using you mouse. It’s instantly intuitive. Basically Zero learning curve.

-Flexibility – A netbook based endpoint could do SIP, OCS, or whatever using currently available software today.

-Video Conferencing – Nice big screen (compared to desk phone) and plug in an even bigger one with the external VGA plug if you want.

In answer to “the CEO Will Want a phone handset” you can give him a CX200? (or the newer CX300)? In answer to the “what if my pc reboots?” question—hey, you have a separate netbook that won’t be rebooting!

Maybe the USB handset combined with The Phone Netbook is the wave of the future? And not just a cheap way to get things done? Maybe the Polycom CX200 isn’t so weird?

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