AudioCodes One Voice for Lync – Another Take

AudioCodes One Voice for Lync – Another Take

By Jon Arnold January 17, 2013 Leave a Comment
Jon Arnold Image for Unified Communications Strategies
AudioCodes One Voice for Lync – Another Take by Jon Arnold

By now, I’m sure you have the gist of this announcement, and to get the product-level detail, you should read both Blair’s post and Marty’s post from earlier in the week. In short, One Voice makes it much easier for Lync to support voice by having all the integration and support handled by one vendor – AudioCodes. They definitely have the pedigree – perhaps more than anyone, for both enterprise and SMB – so this is a natural fit. Not only does it make for a more stable end user experience, but it makes Lync easier for channels to sell as a complete solution. Good plan.

I prefer to focus on the business-level issues, so I’d like to add two different takeaways from the collective UCStrategies perch.

1. Microsoft and Cisco – this here town isn’t big enough for us both

There’s a lot of Wild West in the world of UC, and this fits right in. In the extreme Darwinian scenario, these two will lay waste to the vendor landscape, leaving just themselves and a lot of tumbleweed blowing through Dodge. That’s a pretty gloomy outcome, but probably not far from the end game these two companies ultimately envision. Of course, we’re a far ways off from that happening, but depending on your allegiances, it’s either Cisco and Avaya, but increasingly Cisco and Microsoft vying for dominance, at least in North America. AudioCodes is certainly in the MSFT camp, and among many UC vendors, there is a choice to be made and sides to take.

Given all the pieces that AudioCodes can support around voice, this alignment makes sense, especially considering where they can bring the most value. Microsoft lacks these capabilities, and they need a credible voice solution to stand on their own against Cisco. I have written before that in today’s market, Lync does not need to hang off an IP PBX to provide a complete UC solution.

This is clear from the AudioCodes press release, which talks about a “voice enablement” for Lync. While One Voice helps Lync “co-exist with current telephony systems,” this is really code for saying you don’t need an IP PBX now and Lync can provide the full package. This is part of the subtle shift in language from “telephony” to “voice,” where a standalone phone system is no longer the center of communication. In the world of IP and UC, as we know, voice is just another data application, and since Microsoft owns the desktop, it’s in their interest to co-opt voice into that real estate. For all the reasons covered by Blair and Marty, One Voice goes a long way to helping them do that.

2. Rumors of the PC’s death are greatly exaggerated

This sure isn’t news, and it’s not something Microsoft wants to see happen. With the rush to cloud, it seems like this is just a foregone conclusion. Well, they said that about the PSTN almost 20 years ago, and VoIP’s market share is still in the single digits, at least for the residential market. With such large installed bases, these migrations take a long time, especially when the native technology still works pretty well.

In time, sure, I could see third generation tablets and who-knows-what coming along to seal the PC’s fate, but new fortunes will be made and lost before that happens. One Voice is about what’s happening today, and the desktop is as relevant as ever before. You don’t need me to tell you that PC shipments are in decline, but most all of us still have one. The same could be said for fax machines. You probably can’t remember the last time you sent a fax, but I’ll bet there’s one within a 30-second walk of your desk.

If the PC era is over, why then, is Dell’s UC division partnering with AudioCodes? Did you even know that Dell was in the UC racket? That sure says a lot about how things have changed. With PCs becoming a sunset business, Dell needs to shift into IT consulting and integration to extend their future. As we know, UC’s value lies in the applications, not the hardware, so Dell is making a good move here using One Voice to augment Lync’s value.

I’m sure they’re relatively indifferent which IP phone vendors to recommend, but there’s no doubt that Lync helps them sell more Dell PCs. While I don’t know if they make more money on the PCs or from Lync, with seamless “voice enablement” from AudioCodes, this creates a pretty solid value proposition.

Depending on which statistics you use, it’s not hard to conclude that the PC era is over. This week, I attended Deloitte’s Predictions 2013 event in Toronto (which I blogged about), and they presented some interesting data points that I found quite timely and apropos for this write-up. Their data indicates that 2013 will mark the first time that the number of smart mobile devices passes the user base of PCs. The global base of PCs is projected to be 1.6 billion, while smart devices are expected to tally about 1.8 billion devices in use – 1.5 billion smart phones and 0.3 billion tablets. Just as IP PBX shipments surpassed PBX shipments a few years back, a similar inflection point is about to be reached with PCs. Sunset for sure.

But, wait. While these diverging trends are expected to continue, other data show that in terms of actual usage, PCs leave mobile devices in the dust. Sunset – now not so sure. In the U.S., people spend about 200 hours per month on their PCs, compared to only roughly 60 hours on their smart phones and 50 hours on tablets.

The skew is even more pronounced in terms of Internet traffic, where 2012 data show PCs accounting for 92 percent of all traffic. Smart devices are just in the low single digits. Interestingly, these patterns are consistent across all age groups, so this is not a generational trend. Of course, the form factor has a lot to do with this – cost as well – as the PC simply provides more utility and better experience, especially for video.

Bottom line – PCs aren’t going away any time soon, and I think AudioCodes has bet right on helping make voice an integral part of the desktop UC experience. I’m glad I didn’t write this before the Deloitte event, and hopefully you’ll agree this is a different take on One Voice. Even better, if you have a different take on this announcement, let’s hear it and keep the dialog going.

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