The North American softphone markets continues to exhibit strong growth, thanks largely to the wider adoption of Internet Protocol (IP) telephony, the emergence of true unified communications (UC) applications, and the changing nature of work structure. Enterprise softphone applications are increasingly being recognized as the default extensions of IP desktop phones in corporate networks and are becoming an important part of IP telephony providers' strategic offerings.
New analysis from Frost & Sullivan (conferencing.frost.com), North American Enterprise Softphone Markets, finds that the market earned revenues of $18.9 million in 2007 and estimates this to reach $135.1 million in 2014.
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New technologies and new demands have coupled to create a workforce that is highly independent from the workplace itself. Workers are no longer tied to a physical desk in a physical office. Softphones and software graphical user interfaces (GUIs) that integrate different types of communications into a single interface are becoming the primary tools to enhance the effectiveness of communications for an increasing number of telecommuters, mobile workers, and traveling professionals. The nomadic capabilities of a softphone allow it to be plugged into any available broadband connection to reroute calls to any given location.
"The increased implementation of integrated UC clients is likely to contribute toward the demand for click-to-call graphical interfaces as softphones seem to be the natural transition to more sophisticated, UC solutions," notes Frost & Sullivan Research Analyst Alaa Saayed. "Since the majority of the IP telephony solution vendors are building strong cases around UC, soft clients may also receive a boost along the way."
However, misconceptions regarding the security and call quality of IP-based telephony are still a major challenge for softphone providers. Downward pricing pressure due to increased competition is also a major challenge, as are interoperability issues related to endpoints and systems.
"A significant issue to be addressed by softphone vendors in general is the popularity of desk phones and the hard sell of a softphone in terms of perceived benefits and potential usage," says Saayed. "Customers still believe that the reliability of voice over IP is not as good as the reliability of voice communication over public switched telephone network (PSTN)."
In response to security concerns, softphone vendors provide tools such as client authentication, advanced encryption standards (AES) and secure real-time transport protocol (SRTP). The quality of voice over IP is also being handled by the implementation of standards such as jitter buffering, acoustic echo cancellation, and 802.1p and q standards. Mobility, cost effectiveness, and access to a broader spectrum of features, including UC applications, are the main areas that softphone vendors focus on in order to sell their solutions.
North American Enterprise Softphone Markets is part of the Conferencing & Collaboration Growth Partnership Service program, which also includes research in the following markets: Enterprise IP Desktop Phone Industry, Enterprise Hosted IP Telephony, and Enterprise Telephony Systems. All research services included in subscriptions provide detailed market opportunities and industry trends that have been evaluated following extensive interviews with market participants. Interviews with the press are available.
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North American Enterprise Softphone Markets