Grandstream Networks, a provider of IP voice and video products, is breathing new life into the desk phone market with the introduction of its latest video IP phone. The new GXV3240 IP video phone for Android combines enterprise needs and consumer desires by offering voice and HD video conferencing -- as well as access to business and Google Play applications -- on a familiar operating system at an accessible price.
Video-enabled desk phones and desktop video options are helping video adoption bloom within the enterprise, but many businesses are still concluding that the prices of the technology can't be justified. Grandstream's latest IP video touchscreen phone has a list price of $219, an undeniably attractive upfront cost for any business, said Mohamed Alaa Saayed, senior industry analyst and information communications technology team leader for Mountain View, California-based Frost and Sullivan Inc.
"This is the first time I'm seeing a very complete media phone at such a price tag," Saayed said. "We are going to see more IP desk phones become 'smart' with new capabilities; the industry is trying to do for desk phones what smartphones did for the cell phone," he said.
IP voice, video phone bridges business needs, consumer wants
The GXV3240 IP video phone is built on the Android operating system, version 4.2, and offers up to six SIP user accounts. It has dual gigabit network ports with Power over Ethernet and integrated 802.11n Wi-Fi, which allows the phone to serve as a hotspot in the event of limited coverage or connectivity issues, Grandstream Networks said.
The industry is trying to do for desk phones, what smartphones did for the cell phone.
Mohamed Alaa Saayed,
senior industry analyst, Frost and Sullivan Inc.
The built-in 4.3-inch touchscreen gives users access to Google Play Store apps -- including Microsoft Lync, GoToMeeting and Salesforce for business. It offers features like call forwarding and data exchange with personal mobile devices -- including Android and iPhone devices -- through its integrated Bluetooth feature. The phone also supports up to four of Grandstream's GXP2200 screen extension modules for easier browsing through contact lists, said Phil Bowers, marketing communications manager for Boston-based Grandstream Networks.
"This 6-line IP phone offers all the advanced telephony features that businesses want, with the convenience and functionality of an Android mobile device, he said. "A lot of apps that employees use on a daily basis can now be plugged right into this IP phone."
Because the phone is built on the Android platform, users can video conference with others across multiple video platforms downloaded from Google Play -- including Skype or Google Hangouts -- or use Grandstream's IP video Talk feature, a 3-party video conferencing system that works out of the box without any SIP account needed, Bowers said.
SigmaVoIP LLC, a Westport, Connecticut-based reseller and VoIP and SIP trunking provider, sells Grandstream devices to multinational business customers, and also uses Grandstream's devices internally, said Charles Ambrosecchia, president and CEO of SigmaVoIP. Ambrosecchia, along with a large SigmaVoIP client, beta tested the latest GXV3240 IP video phone.
Ambrosecchia is an Android user, and appreciates the phone's interoperability with his personal mobile devices. "I always tote a Nexus 7 [tablet] to work, but ever since I started using the [GXV3240], I've been able to ditch the tablet. … The phone is a lot more efficient and is a great tablet replacement for certain kinds of users," he said.
The GXV3240 can also serve as a Wi-Fi hotspot, he said. "We didn't expect that, but you can connect into a gigabit port and create your own access point, which offers great flexibility for businesses, as well as for home workers."
SigmaVoIP has helped deploy these phones within one of its larger customers' environment, a national investment firm with multiple sites. "This customer used to do video conferences by gathering executives into a room … which can waste time. We brought these phones in, and now they can sit at their desks and be up on the meeting screen. It enhances their productivity by not having to go into a centralized video location," Ambrosecchia said.
"UC [unified communications] is important to our customers because they need the ability to collaborate, but they also need to keep costs down," he said. "As we go into the WebRTC era, the addition of this phone was a must -- video is in high demand, but [users] need the right kind of endpoint to meet their needs and be of value."
VoIP and video create a 'smart' desk phone
There's no doubt that consumerization has impacted business needs, and employees expect more of the features they are used to using in their personal lives -- like video -- at work. But that doesn't mean the desk phone is falling by the wayside, Frost and Sullivan's Saayed said.
More on managing enterprise IP voice
Making the IP voice decision
Voice over IP for SMBs
Mobile VoIP: The future is calling
Hardware phones still have a place on many enterprise desks, and vendors are smart to develop their desk phone lines by including new capabilities, Saayad said. "We will also see the price tag on these kinds of endpoints lower over time," he said.
As evident by the GXV3240, prices aren't always going to be a big barrier to video adoption in the enterprise. Bandwidth, however, still poses a challenge for many businesses looking to adopt "smarter" desk phones that demand more from the network, SigmaVoIP's Ambrosecchia said. "It most likely won't be a problem for large corporations, but it may be a challenge for [businesses] on a DSL, or other low-speed connection," he said.