VOIP Ready to Cut the Cord
Infonetics says the market jumped 76 percent to $102.5 million in 2005 and predicts that it will grow 158 percent in 2006. The firm says that roughly two-thirds of WiFi phone revenue came from singlemode 802.11 handsets in 2005 with the rest from dualmode handsets, which are still rather thin on the ground.
Infonetics says this market is being driven by enterprise users at the moment, although it expects that consumer interest will pick up. Those two user segments will push the market to about $1.9 billion by 2009, the analysts predict.
Unstrung has spoken to a number of enterprise users on the subject of VOIP phones recently, and anecdotal evidence suggests that vertical markets -- particularly healthcare -- tend to be the key sectors using these devices.
Infonetics points to Asia as the key market for dualmode VOIP phones at the moment, with 52 percent of revenue coming from the region, and 25 percent from North America.
This is less surprising given that NTT DoCoMo Inc. (NYSE: DCM) has been talking up dualmode to enterprise users for a while now, and many of the initial dualmode phones were launched first in Asian markets.
That should change soon as more vendors are starting to promote new dualmode phones in Europe, as shown by announcements and activities at this week's 3GSM World Congress in Barcelona. (See UMA Steps Up.)
VOIP phones are being promoted as a cost-saving measure for corporate customers that want to improve cellular coverage in the office and make it easier to contact employees.
But the devices may pose new problems for the average IT manager. Some WLAN vendors are already warning that the multimedia devices will tax the capacity of existing 802.11 networks, and some consultants are uncovering security issues associated with the handsets. (See WiFi VOIP: How Safe? and Talk Radio.) — Dan Jones, Site Editor, Unstrung