Is the desk phone really dead? Ned thinks so

I have a colleague, let’s call him “Ned”. On more than the odd occasion Ned has crop dusted past my desk with the comment – “You know the desk phone is dead, don’t you!!

There has always been plenty of interest in Telephony/UC Softphones however when it has come to the day of ordering, the client would often opt to remain with a Desktop Handset or a Desktop Handset combined with a UC application and not take the plunge with softphones. If they did it was only for a few users.

Is Ned right? Is the desk phone really dead?

Apart from merely avoiding a desk phone planted on your desk, a key driver for softphones was to provide a user with the flexibility to telework; utilising the SIP Softphone on a laptop or smart device to work either at home, offsite at another location, traveling or whilst mobile- connecting over the internet. Overtime though there has been an increase in clients now opting for, or at least exploring, the “full soft” implementation- giving users the choice of a Desktop Device or Softphone, not just for the Mobile/Remote Communicators but also office-based workers.

Over the years I have used a softphone on and off however earlier in the year I decided to go completely soft. I removed the desk phone and ran with a softphone on my Surface Pro device and another on my iPhone. I will say, it did take a little bit of time to get used to and at first when I was in the office I would primarily use the PC softphone although after a few weeks I started to use the softphone on my mobile device more and more, even when I was at my desk. This was for making and receiving calls. I just found it gave me the freedom to get up and move around and I’m sure I am not unlike most of us, I would always have my mobile with me so essentially I was using the one device for all calls. Simply, it just worked for me.

Mitel’s recent approach to UC application development has been from the mobile worker first and I can understand why. The number of remote or mobile workers are on the rise more now than ever and as I previously mentioned, even users who are only mobile within their own building. So having just a desktop device does not suit some team members anymore and as our users are so used to using PC and Mobile applications, it’s not as big of a change as it once was.

Who wins the Desk phone v Softphone debate?

In my opinion I think it still comes down to the individual and their personal preference. I wouldn’t go as far as Ned and say the desk phone is dead although users just using a desk phone alone and not in combo with a UC application is definitely a lot less. So the next natural step for most who are already using a UC app would be to take the handset out of the equation and this would be why the requests keep coming in and the uptake is on the rise.