Contrasted to Silicon Valley where companies seem to pop up and then get acquired by Cisco or Oracle faster than the time it will take you to read this article, Dallas has some telecom companies which have been around for years.
So as you can imagine -- in order to do my job well as traveling editor, covering all that's important in communications and technology, I stop by Texas often.
One of my stops on my latest Dallas area road-trip was at Iwatsu, a 70+ year-old Japanese phone maker catering to the SMB. The company has high-quality phone systems and although they are not as well known in the US as they are in Japan, Iwatsu has a reputation for designing solid products.
While in the company's Irving headquarters I was shown some information on how energy efficient the company's phone systems are. Since the phone systems are convection cooled they are greener than much of the competition as they don't use fans. Equipment that does not use fans is almost always more reliable as well.
Iwatsu has never been afraid to use advanced technology and partner with other companies to give their dealers an edge. For example they resell a reverse 911 service allowing large amounts of people to be contacted in case of emergencies. This same service has been sold to retail companies as well. For example car dealers use the service to quickly contact existing customers when a new model comes out.
Another interesting area of focus for the company is phones and there is still a focus on providing TDM as well as IP endpoints. In fact, you can even send text messages to TDM endpoints.
In addition the company is adding bluetooth capability into some of its models and testing has been done with 50 different bluetooth headsets. The system software can even increase or decrease transmit and receive audio levels of the phones if neededIwatsu Voice Networks President David Carissimi shows off bluetooth features of Iwatsu phones
The company's Gateway Server holds applications from call accounting to ACD and includes an SDK and all software comes with a 90 day free trial. For VARs this is the ultimate in puppy dog sales - you know, giving the puppy to a family to play with for a weekend always means they will come in Monday morning and buy it.
Iwatsu's Don Gant and Kevin Helleher are always happy to discuss the company's latest products
I also had a chance to look at the company's Precot phone which is one of the most advanced phones on the market. Sadly, It is only available in Japan at the moment.
The Precot has integrated videoconferencing, can offer a scalable web browser, touch screen/stylus support, support for click-to-dial from web pages, soft keyboard support, mouse support, external monitor support, S Video RCA video out/in and RCA audio out.
The semi-famous Iwatsu Precot phone
With all these connectors, the phone seems as comfortable connected to your home stereo system as it is on your desk.
Another interesting feature of the device is the ability to control panning and zooming of remote video cameras via the phone. Finally, you can also associate other video cameras with phones on the network, meaning you could have a security camera aiming at a hallway phone associated with the hallway phone. So when a call comes in from this extension you could be watching the person making the call.
My Dallas trip was certainly very informative and one of the highlights was seeing how advanced the Precot phone is. Whether companies will actually pay for phones with such advanced features is the next question I am wondering about but I can see the security-based vertical markets as a natural for this phone. This means, schools, government, military and other segments of the market could be very interested in getting their hands on the Precot. I too am certainly hoping I get my hands on one if it does ever show up as a production model in the states.