ShoreTel First to Dock
2012 was the year that the UC industry truly embraced the iPad. Every vendor seemed to roll-out an iOS app, and it was predominantly featured in the booths and keynotes at Enterprise Connect 2012. I guessed then that every major UC vendor would have an iPad dock by the end of the year.
I was wrong. It took until today – and the first to deliver is ShoreTel with its new ShoreTel Dock. There’s been a few vendors like Mocet and Invoxia that have offered a dock and client as an independent prosumer solution, but none of the UC enterprise vendors proffered an integrated solution. Cisco and Avaya launched their own tablets to compete with the iPad, and every major vendor embraces the devices as endpoints – but none have offered a solution to make it suitable as a desktop replacement.
Software is not enough. iPads are very clever devices, capable of many things – but software doesn’t make an iPad ideal for long calls or a full day’s use. With the iOS device, it becomes a high-end endpoint. Very high-end as there are not that many UC endpoints out there with a hi-res touch-screen. The device provides the smart iOS device power, a numeric keypad, specialized keys, a handset, speaker, and traditional headset jack. The device itself requires no programming or configuration. That’s not to say the solution is zero configuration – the iOS client must be properly installed and provisioned.
It is important to also note what a dock isn’t. It is not a phone. Without an iPad or iPhone, the dock is basically useless. The iOS device provides the computer. It’s a desktop cradle with a BYOD attitude.
ShoreTel clearly put a lot of thought into this UC accessory and made some impressive design choices. It accommodates both iPads and iPhones. The mobile device can be mounted landscape or portrait and easily switched. It is compatible with both ShoreTel premises-based solutions and ShoreTel Sky. ShoreTel offers software to support various use cases including contact center agent. It also works with its ShoreTel Mobility software. A minor detail, but possibly significant is ShoreTel included a mechanical hook-switch to deliver an accurate physical device experience.
At $349 plus an iOS device, it’s an exceptional endpoint in terms of capability.
Its viable lifespan will very likely be much shorter than a comparably priced IP phone. Connectors, form factors, and expectations continue to change quickly with mobile devices.
I would prefer it if the dock was an endpoint itself – useful in its own right when the mobile device is removed. Keep in mind 911 and the operator cannot be reached without the iOS device.
The dock has potential for non-iOS devices. ShoreTel is planning to support Android devices in the future.
The ShoreTel iOS clients do not support video at this time. However, the dock won’t interfere with other apps that utilize the video capabilities of iOS devices.
This solution has strong potential for specific applications such as contact center applications. Note, it includes an RJ-22 headset jack (no separate EHS cable like most ShoreTel phones).
Sharp crisp look.
2.5” speaker will be a big improvement over the iPad speaker – still a bit small though for a high-end desktop speakerphone.
Can use local power or POE.
Personally, I believe the wired desktop phone has a great future, though I’m still waiting for a vendor to bring the next generation endpoint to the market. 2013 has already seen more new endpoints than we saw in 2012, but none have really nailed it yet. This is an interesting alternative while we wait.
ShoreTel customers will benefit from this device. However, customers who don’t have ShoreTel UC solutions may also represent a potential market. This dock could be used with any UC solution and iOS client. I wonder if ShoreTel intends to makes its APIs to the hard keys available.