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Softphones strangled by smartphone battery life

PC startup times also an issue, says ShoreTel

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Softphones aren’t making inroads onto smartphones or the desktop because the former lacks battery life and the latter take too long to start up, according to Jamie Romanin, ShoreTel’s Regional Director for Australasia.

Softphones are applications that do everything a telephone handset can, but run on a PC or smartphone. Often suggested as a fine way to save money, either by removing the need for a phone on the desk or by allowing least-cost routing of calls to and from mobiles over WiFi, softphones haven’t made enormous inroads.

ShoreTel’s desktop client includes a softphone, but Romanin said few clients use it because of its dependence on a PC being switched on. Nor are users flocking to its mobile client, at least not for its softphone functions.

“There’s the ‘I just need to make one more call factor,’” Romanin explained, which leaves users disappointed that they need to restart a PC and wait for reboot and invocation of the smartphone. That inconvenience has left desktop smartphones unloved.

Smartphone versions of softphones, he added, are unloved because workers opt to preserve their gadgets’ charge for personal matters rather than risk burning through batteries for work calls.

Neither reason for softphone shunning is slowing ShoreTel, whose Vice-President for Strategy and Global Markets Mark Arman told a Sydney press event today that making the company’s channel work harder has paid dividends. In 2011 ShoreTel upped the certification requirements for its channel, insisting that most put on dedicated staff and acquire a portable stack of server, switch and handset to demonstrate its kit in action.

That strategy has paid off, Arman said, with increased sales around the world and a ten percent market share for corporate unified communications rigs in the USA. The company recently opened a Philippines office to service a new call centre client in the nation, and has decided the UK, Ireland, France and Benelux, along with India and Australia, are growth targets. North Asian nations are also on the agenda, as the company hinted at double-byte-ready handsets that will make its offerings applicable in nations it currently does not serve.

“We will be dominant in five years,” Arman predicted, confident ShoreTel will avoid the fate of Avaya and Nortel by innovating, while skipping ahead of Cisco thanks to superior technology. ®

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