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Will Workers Really Give Up Desk Phones In Favor of Mobile Models?

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Written by Phillip Kim

A recent blog posted on the BusinessWeek site, More Workers to Give Up Desk Phones at the Office, announces a budding trend; business phone users will be moving towards mobile phones, forsaking their desk models. As Executive Vice President of M5 Networks I thought about this for a minute or two. Is this true? And, if it were true, what would it mean? We've certainly all noticed the shift in our personal lives, but will trends in the workplace follow suit?

I don't have a traditional phone at home. I only have my cell phone, and I don't see any additional benefits of having a Verizon POTS service. I thought about it once when I wanted to get Tivo, which at that time required a telephone line, but has since added IP connectivity. I also smile amusedly whenever I inadvertently try to plug my network cable into the phone jack in my laptop. Man, how obsolete is that? Wifi, EVDO, 3g, etc… Don't think I've used that phone jack since 1999. I am not sure what the figures are for traditional landline use by residential users, but it's dropping. Whether it's because users are dropping landline service in favor of cell phones or cable triple play, that figure is down. I guess one can Google the exact statistics.

Many feel the cell phone trend is applicable to the office. I agree. But only to a certain segment of the work force, and I believe a smaller one than the residential market. Business is serious stuff, or at least it should be where speed and accuracy, and faster is better, rules. In this world, landlines will always have the edge, no matter how good mobile phones get. If one works in a company where the phone is used occasionally, though kind of hard to believe, or perhaps where the company is small enough it can get by without, I can see how only mobile phones are used. Is cost the real issue? If a company isn't getting benefits from its phones to justify the cost then I don't know what to say.

On the other hand, I used a soft phone for a few months.  It it was very good, a little buggy at the time but I am sure that's been worked out since. The sound quality was better as my desktop (when not crunching financial sensitivities or playing Call of Duty) is much more powerful than the regular Cisco hard phone and can process the codecs more quickly. But I am a geek and don't mind fiddling around and trying new stuff. I'm not a phone power user, hammering the thing every minute for 8 hrs. There is a certain convenience to having something useful in an appliance form factor, dedicated for a single, important purpose. Focus, right? So my thoughts are that it isn't an epic struggle of wireless vs. landlines, hard vs. soft. It's how companies will determine which specific applications and solution provides them with the most impact. More choices, more specific tailored solutions, and that's all good.