Today, at ITEXPO, the premiere communications event, Digium launched a line of IP phones that work in conjunction with their Asterisk and Switchvox solutions. This truly could be a gamechanger, since Asterisk is a popular IP-PBX solution that popular 3rd party phone vendors such as Aastra, snom, and Polycom offer products for. This move by Digium and the impact on these phone vendors could be quite interesting. This reminds me of 2008 when Aastra, a traditional IP phone manufacturer decided to offer a full-fledged IP-PBX based on Asterisk, called AastraLink. As I said during the AastraLink 2008 product launch:
Aastra Telecom has entered the IP-PBX game with the AastraLink Pro 160. This is a very interesting move since Aastra Telecom is known for their IP phones used by various IP-PBXs, including many of the Asterisk-based solutions - trixbox, AsteriskNOW, Druid, PBX in a Flash, etc. With the AastraLink Pro 160 Aastra is now competing with IP-PBX vendors that purchase their phones. It will be interesting to see if some IP-PBX vendors, especially the Asterisk-based ones, move towards other IP phones such as Polycom
Aastra even admitted in a follow-up interview I did that this was a delicate issue with their partners. Digium offering IP phones could have much more of an impact than Aastra's move did back in 2008. Digium is espousing their new phones by promoting, "Simple configuration and game-changing app engine" as well as "best possible performance, unprecedented integration and a uniquely customizable phone system."
“Digium’s new phones mark the launch of the next chapter in our history of innovation,” said Danny Windham, president and CEO of Digium. “These are the first phones designed specifically for Asterisk—with the tightest integration possible between the phones and Asterisk. The success of Asterisk began with the transfer of power from the hands of the proprietary phone vendors to the hands of end users and administrators of phone systems. And now we’ve done it again by bringing control to the desk phone. These phones are absolutely the easiest to install, integrate, provision and use with both Asterisk and Switchvox. And best of all, we’ve done all of this at a very competitive price point, providing our customers with the best value in business phone systems.”
“The app engine is a game-changing feature that will allow developers to write their own apps that run on the phones,” explained Mark Spencer, founder and chief technology officer for Digium. “We have a community of more than 80,000 users and developers who create amazing things with Asterisk. I look forward to seeing the cool apps they will create with these innovative phones. As usual, we’re enabling developers to create solutions limited only by their imaginations.”
Digium has leveraged this unique programming interface of the phones to create a suite of productivity applications that work with both Asterisk and Switchvox. Switchvox includes a unique web interface called Switchboard that gives each system user control of their personal communications environment. Digium has extended the capabilities of the Switchboard to the phone, putting advanced features like presence management, searchable contact directory, queue monitoring, recording and voicemail control, on the phone.The Digium phones include the following models:
- D40—An entry-level HD IP phone with 2-line keys. This is Digium’s best value phone, designed for any employee in the company.
- D50—A mid-level HD IP phone with 4-line keys and 10 rapid dial/busy lamp field (BLF) keys with an easy to print paper label strip for the user’s most important contacts. This model is perfect for users who spend a lot of time on the phone.
- D70—An executive-level HD IP phone with 6-line keys and 10 rapid dial/busy lamp field (BLF) keys and real-time status information displayed on an additional LCD screen, allowing users to quickly navigate through up to 100 of their most important contacts. Designed for administrators or executives, the D70 offers top-of-the-line features.
Here's the D50 phone:
Digium plans to have general availability of these new phones in April 2012. The MSRP for these models is as follows: D70 - $279, D50 - $179 and the D40 - $129. For more information, visit http://www.digium.com/phones.
ITEXPO 2012 attendees are encouraged to visit Digium at booth 901 to check out the phones. I'll snap some video of the phones in action if I can.
On a related note, Xorcom is also announcing at ITEXPO that they are now offering their own Xorcom branded IP phones for their Asterisk-based IP-PBX. What, is everyone in the Asterisk space (& related) going to offer their own IP phones now? Is everyone going rogue in the IP phone space and cannibalizing their partners taking the booty for themselves? Shiver me timbers! Ye be pirates! If I see FreePBX, PBX in A Flash, trixbox, or Elastix branded IP phones then that's it, I'm going home!
Certainly, I jest. I don't begrudge Avaya or Shoretel selling their own IP phones, so the makers of Asterisk should have that right. I just feel like we're headed back to the big iron PBX days of the 80s and 90s where you were forced to buy phones from the phone system manufacturer. Granted, the SIP standard today means you can use any 3rd party phone still - even with Digium's IP-PBX, but now Digium's IP phones will have 'tighter' hooks with Asterisk that others do not. I suppose 3rd party vendors could do the same as long as Digium doesn't patent this - which I don't expect them to do.
In any event, Xorcom is announcing at ITEXPO two IP phone models and an expansion module. The XP0120 is a multi-function advanced IP phone that accepts an expansion module, while the XP0100 is a multi-function standard IP phone.
Update: Here's a YouTube video demo of the phones