Monday, August 13, 2007

IP-PBX Market is Crazy

Mitel bought Inter-Tel. Avaya went private. ShoreTel tried to IPO, but Mitel launched patent litigation the night before release. Everyone is guessing about the SMB space. Manufacturers were slow to evolve to IP-PBX (and some are really just TDM with some VoIP). The industry is behind the 8-ball and the smaller, newer, and Asterisk-based and Hosted players are taking market share. (Every week there is at least one PBX announcement about the SMB space).

Really the space is many markets.

  • Under 10 employees is probably Hosted.
  • Under 25 is not going to buy a Cisco, Nortel, or other Big Brand. Maybe that space buys 3Com or NEC on eBay.
  • Under 20 is where Linksys One is aiming.
  • In the 25 to 50 employee range, you get more bang for your buck with Asterisk based PBX systems from trixbox, Talkswitch, Digium and many others. And most important the TCO is lower, since maintain costs on the Big Brands is high.
  • Yet in the 50 to 99 handsets, it is anyone's game. I just don't think Avaya, Nortel, Mitel/Inter-Tel, Shore-Tel and Cisco can price the system, handsets, and maintenance comfortably - and still make a decent margin. The price pressure from below hurts them, unless the bells and whistles (like FMC) are included.

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