T3i Group Says Telephony Systems Introduced in 2008 Again Emphasize the Small Business Market

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While manufacturers are rolling out platforms sized specifically for SMBs, they are also addressing concerns by smaller businesses about the high cost and complexity of adding more advanced applications.

According to TelecomTactics, the T3i Group division that maintains the online comparative database of telephony and related applications systems used throughout the telecommunications industry, two-thirds of telephony system introductions in 2008 targeted small or mid-sized businesses (SMBs), or branch offices of larger enterprises. Over 60% of these SMB systems actually address very small businesses, specifically, those with under 100 employees. The recent T3i Group report entitled "InfoTrack for Unified Communications: 2008 SMB Market Analysis" reported that SMBs represented 36% of US IPT shipments in 2007, and that their growth rate is faster than enterprise shipments, so it is no surprise that manufacturers are aggressively pursuing this key segment with new platforms and business applications.

Leading manufacturers including Aastra, Avaya, Cisco, ESI, NEC, Nortel, Panasonic, Toshiba and Vertical Communications unveiled over 20 new SMB systems in 2008. Some of the new entries round-out existing product families, while others mark the entrance into a new market segment. In addition, innovative new competitors in this market represent the open source software communities as well as Microsoft. Open source software is available to the development community, so it facilitates development of feature-rich but low-priced systems. Below are just a few of the 2008 roll outs.

Aastra Telecom, the North American business unit of Aastra Technologies Limited, addresses smaller businesses in North America with two new SIP-based options: the AastraLink RP phone system, a version of the Microsoft Response Point phone system that combines software from Microsoft with hardware from Aastra Technologies, and AastraLink Pro 160, a Linux-based appliance that runs the Asterisk open source PBX software from Digium. Microsoft has partnered with several channels to introduce its Response Point technology, and Asterisk is also the basis for several other SMB platforms.

Nortel introduced the SIP-based Software Communication System (SCS) for highly collaborative work environments; SCS500 is based on Pingtel's sipXecs (formerly sipX) IP PBX open source software, and runs on industry standard hardware server platforms from Dell and IBM. Cisco enhanced its Unified Communications 500 Series for Small Business that combines telephony, messaging and mobility with a new 24-user configuration and has developed new sales channels to reach the small business market.

While manufacturers are rolling out platforms sized specifically for SMBs, they are also addressing concerns by smaller businesses about the high cost and complexity of adding more advanced applications. Nearly all of the new telephony platforms include built-in applications that are standard or easily activated by license keys, so no additional components are necessary. The embedded applications vary and may include voice mail, auto attendant, unified messaging, conferencing, contact center, call recording, mobility, unified communications or other business functionality.

"As 2008 has unfolded, more application-rich, competitively-priced IP PBXs for SMBs have emerged in the market," noted T3i Group Senior Analyst for TelecomTactics, Sandra Gustavsen. "Built-in applications that are affordable and easily activated address small business needs for simplicity and ease of installation and management. Moreover, applications enable manufacturers to differentiate their offers from the competition. Forthcoming systems will likely include not only additional packaged applications, but also a wider variety of functionality that will help each manufacturer distinguish its SMB offer."

To learn more about the business telephony market, including IP PBX systems, IP telephones and associated VoIP applications, visit TelecomTactics (http://www.telecomtactics.com), sign up for a free issue of the TelecomTactics Insider e-newsletter (http://www.telecomtactics.com/InsiderRequest3.htm), or contact Sandra Gustavsen, 856/424-1100.

About T3i Group LLC

T3i Group LLC provides market research, data, analysis, and consulting and advisory services to the telecommunications industry. It has clients in 46 countries and conducts its business through four operating units: InfoTech, which publishes reports that analyze shipment, revenue, market share and other pertinent data of importance to telecommunications equipment manufacturers; TelecomTactics, which maintains a database of the features and functionality of major telephony systems; Tarifica, which maintains a database of pricing-related information covering 400 telecommunications carriers operating in 130 countries; and TelecomWeb (http://www.telecomweb.com), which is a content provider with an editorial staff that authors and posts telecommunications-industry news stories every business day. The site also serves as T3i Group's primary delivery mechanism for distributing its reports, analyses and data to subscribers.

T3i Group LLC is headquartered in Parsippany, NJ, with additional offices in New York City, London, England and Cherry Hill, NJ.

Press Contact: Debra Baker, 301/905-7703

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