Tuesday, August 7, 2007

NEC Acquires Sphere Communications

NEC is acquiring Sphere Communications, the latest in a series of consolidations affecting the business phone system market. Mitel and Inter-Tel, as well as Lucent and Alcatel earlier announced mergers. One has to expect more mergers involving companies specializing in small and mid-sized business phone systems, as Cisco and Microsoft are going to muscle their way into the SME segment of the market.

Though managed and hosted services are growing, SMEs still overwhelmingly seem to prefer premises-based solutions, say researchers at Infonetics.

As more voice features and applications are integrated with existing business processes, and as unified communications starts to be seen as the "function" voice is a part of, we can expect similar sorts of ripples throughout the current ecosystem supporting voice services for the SME segment. The ability to design and support a network running voice and communications applications as well as other business apps will become more important in the value added reseller space, as an obvious example.

Channel partners who can handle the "desktop" side of the premises demarc will gain at the expense of partners who only can work on the trunk side of an interface. And more of the value will derive from applications support rather than infrastructure support.

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