Avaya borrowed a page from cell phone makers playbook on June 8 when it launched the latest additions to its line of one-X IP phones.
The new Avaya one-X Deskphone Edition is designed to mimic the ease of navigation that cell phones provide as well as offer lots of choices to different types of users.
"Personalization of your desk" is how industry analyst Frank Dzubeck at Communication Network Architects described the new line, which can be customized with different colors of face plates, includes "high fidelity speakers and microphones," and supports Bluetooth in some models.
"They use next-generation signal processing to basically increase the quality of the experience. Its clear, crisp. This is the enablement of the next-generation quality of experience," said Dzubeck, based in Washington, DC.
Dzubeck, who believes the phones will appeal to younger workers, likened the color choices to Apples iPod. "I love the colors," he said.
While typical Time Division Multiplexing-based phones only support 3 KHz frequencies, the new Deskphone Edition phones support from three to seven KHz frequencies with wideband support, thanks to broadband and IP, said David DeLorenzo, senior product manager in Avayas Communications Appliances Division in Lincroft, N.J.
And the phones housing is engineered for better acoustical quality, he added.
Avaya, which designed four models of the new one-X Deskphone Edition for four types of users, both leapfrogged the competition and caught up to them in the feature set, said to Allan Sulkin, president of TEQConsult Group, a Hackensack, N.J., consulting company.
"Wideband was added as a catch-up feature. But Avaya went beyond competitors by offering wideband not just to the desk but also to the speakerphone and headset," he said.
The Bluetooth support also sets Avaya apart from some competitors, but planned Gigabit Ethernet connectivity will bring Avaya up to par with rival Cisco Systems, who is the number one supplier of IP endpoints in the United States, according to Sulkin.
Still, other competitors are planning to launch new IP Phones over the summer, although Sulkin would not reveal who.
"You will see more wireless, more color capability and more sophisticated display capabilities with competitors new IP phones coming out soon," he said.
Avaya sought to eliminate the difficulty many users have in remembering how to transfer calls or to set up conference calls. "I might lose you," probably wont be a phrase heard at Indian River County School District, which beta tested two of the four new models.
"The display is the big difference. You can get so much more information and you get menus to guide you through [setting up] a conference call or transferring a call. If you dont remember what button to push, it shows you," said Ralph Starr, network analyst at the Vero Beach, Fla., school district.
The phones can also be customized through expansion modules that attach to the side of the phones to add features such as button expansion or more single-touch buttons. A Bluetooth adapter allows for the use of a standard Bluetooth headset, and Avaya may create a video module next year for the Deskphone Edition as well.
The phones also include a USB port, which provides more options. Avaya is considering allowing an iPod or similar device "to link in so you can play sound for callers on hold, or you can download outlook contacts on to a memory stick and add that into the phone through the USB port," said DeLorenzo.
With the enhanced display and IP connectivity, users can also use the phones to quickly access Web sites such as Google, according to Russell Stewart, IS technical support manager at LifeNet, an organ donor nonprofit organization in Virginia Beach, Va.
"The idea is that you can Google things if youre looking for a persons name or organization. You dont have to go far to do that search and dont have to go to another piece of equipment to do that," he said.
The four types of users targeted with each model are: a walkup user in a lobby or conference room who requires minimal features; an everyday user who doesnt highly interact with the phone; an essential user that relies on the phone a great deal; and a navigator user, such as executive assistant, who manages call flows to and from other people.
The 9610 is the lobby model and is due in January of 2007. The 9620 is for the everyday user and is due in July 2006. The 9630 for the essential user is due in July as well, and the 9650 for the navigator user is due in early 2007.
Avaya in the one-X Deskphone launch also introduced several productivity applications created by third-party partners, including Citrix, CalAMP and Millenigence.