IP Phones Are Dying – Not Really

May 07, 2015


As most of you must have heard by now, there has been a continued campaign to kill the IP desktop phones over the years, driven by vendor interest to boost the sales and usage of software-based communications. Frost & Sullivan has always been very skeptical about these overstatements and has carefully monitored the shipment of IP desktop phones on a yearly and even quarterly basis. As such, we have decided to share with our readers the trending of IP desktop phone shipments for the past seven calendar years and our forecast for the next eleven years. 

As you can deduce from the graph, we are still projecting IP desktop phone shipments to grow during the forecast period. Growth rates are expected to be much lower than in previous years. However, growth is still expected. Much of the activity will be driven by the replacement of TDM phones, growth in developing regions, and deployment of IP phones in the hosted/cloud communications space.  While Frost & Sullivan estimates that 22.0 percent of IP desktop phone shipments in 2014 was deployed in the hosted/cloud space, this figure is expected to reach 55.0  percent by 2021.   

Another area that has seen significant growth in the IP phone space is IP media phones.  Frost & Sullivan defines IP media phones or video phones as advanced IP desktop phones equipped with larger displays and either integrated or plugged cameras to enable personal video communication, as well as provide support for advanced telephony and UC features and integrated business applications. While the IP media phone market shipped around 1.5 million devices in 2014, we expect this figure to almost quadruple seven years from now. The move towards lower price points and the trend towards UC-enabled devices will be the main drivers behind IP media phone growth. In 2014, different enterprise communications vendors launched new models of IP media phones, including Android-based devices, broadening the market appeal of this type of multi-modal devices. We expect more and more vendors to invest in these second-generation IP desktop phones.

All this positive trending of IP desktop phones doesn’t mean that Frost & Sullivan is not acknowledging the growing usage of software-based communications. In fact, Frost & Sullivan estimates that in 2014 there were around 47.7 million active UC clients in use by business end users. However, most of these clients are still used in conjunction with IP desktop phones. Thus, while communications usage is shifting towards PC and intelligent mobile clients, IP desktop phones are still a viable alternative at the desk. We might not be using them as much as we used to in the past, but they are still there when we are at the desk. We believe that, over the coming years, there will still be a prime time for each type of endpoint, including desktop phone devices, depending on the workers’ situation, location and time of the day.

The market is still far from seeing massive replacements of IP desktop phones. In fact in 2014, many of the top enterprise communications vendors including Alcatel-Lucent, Cisco, Grandstream, Polycom, ShoreTel, Unify, and Yealink saw healthy growth in IP desktop phone shipments.  Furthermore, almost all major enterprise communications vendors continued to invest in newer IP desktop phone models, including SIP phones, media phones, Microsoft-optimized/qualified devices, and lower-end IP desktop phones. 

To sum up, IP phones are still alive and kicking, offering various alternatives in terms of pricing, shapes, capabilities, integration, and multimodal communications. IP phones are not dead by any measure.


Category : Enterprise

Mohamed Alaa Saayed


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