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Canalys presents first results of telephony reseller panel for EMEA
Posted on 7-Sep-2004 09:37 | Filed under: News

Research firm Canalys has released results from the first wave of its EMEA (Europe, Middle East, Africa) telephony reseller panel survey. The panel will provide feedback every quarter on topics issues within the converged telephony market.

“Over the next five years the telephony industry will witness an extraordinary change in business models, reminiscent of that seen by the computer industry in the early 1990s,” said Canalys CEO Steve Brazier. “Networked PCs rose quickly to replace minicomputers, driven by industry standards, lower costs and the availability of shrink-wrapped applications. Enterprise telephony has entered the first phase of a similar move toward standards, based around Session Initiation Prototcol (SIP), Power over Ethernet (PoE) and IP. Adoption will be driven increasingly by customers’ desire to integrate voice services into their data applications. The move to standards will reduce vendors’ ability to lock customers into a platform and so will inevitably increase price competition. Multi-vendor hardware and software solutions will become common. This is encouraging the telephony industry to develop third-party channels, which the computer industry has already shown are best suited to deliver integrated solutions.”

Highlights of the Q2 survey are that vendors’ channel investments do appear to be having a positive effect. Telephony resellers reported healthy business conditions in Q2, with 87% seeing stable or growing revenues compared with the same period in 2003. 40% of those surveyed said their business growth was 10% or higher. Research analyst and survey manager Georgia Garvey commented “The technologies that stood out as selling above the resellers’ expectations were hybrid-IP PBXs and both wired and WiFi IP phones. This confirms other Canalys research that suggests mobile IP services represent a significant opportunity over the next 12 months. As vendors with wider mobile phone experience, such as Nokia and Motorola, progress with the integration of WiFi in new handsets we expect to see more competition and subsequent improvements in battery life, size and design. No mobile phone vendor that relies on substantial enterprise sales can afford to ignore the changes that adoption of IP telephony will have on their customer base.”

Vendors will be pleased to learn that almost 80% of resellers held the view that IP telephony was “secure and reliable”, while 58% agreed that it offered a lower cost solution than a traditional PBX. Despite plenty of optimism, the survey also contained a strong message that the industry could do much better in certain areas. SIP should enable multi-vendor interoperability, for example by allowing any IP handset to work with any IP-based telephony system. Yet, when questioned about the potential of SIP, the most common response (33%) from resellers was: “The market is confused and few people understand the potential of SIP.” Another 13% admitted not knowing about SIP themselves and 17% felt that vendors’ self-interest would prevent a common SIP standard emerging.

Video telephony is often cited as an area with high growth potential, but resellers remain doubtful that it represents a real opportunity in the short term. Two-thirds of respondents disagreed with the statement that “Video telephony is a real opportunity for resellers to generate revenue” although the vast majority agreed that uptake would increase over the longer term. Just under half thought that it would eventually become “an essential office tool.”

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