When it comes to replacing analog phones with IP-based alternatives, the business sector is way ahead of consumersby a wide margin, a research firm announced Thursday. Nearly 31 million IP phones will be sold to enterprises by 2012at least 10 times the number of VoIP handsets sold to consumers.
The figure is part of a "tale of drastically different markets," according to Arizona-based In-Stat. The reason is essentially cost.
The average voice-centric IP phone costs between $300 and $400, analyst Norm Bogen told Enterprise VoIP Planet. While almost half of businesses that move to Internet telephony choose to ditch their analog line for IP phones, 90 percent of consumers still retain their traditional handset even after adopting VoIP.
For businesses, the cost-savings and extra voice features (inter-office calls are essentially free) are the selling-points of IP phone systems. For consumers, voice alone is not enough.
However, for consumers, voice IP phones are "being subjugated" by IP media phones from Verizon, AT&T, and otherproviders. Along with voice, the media phones facilitate Internet access and have other features that make the extra expense worthwhile to many.
If consumers are to stay in step with business adoption of IP phones, carriers must adopt a similar strategy as that used to push cell phones: subsidies. IP phones for the consumer market need to be either free or discounted by at least 50 percent, Bogen said.
Cisco, Avaya, and Nortel continue to share the lead for IP phone sales, according to the report entitled "The Media Phone Has Arrived."