It was only a matter of time before Pingtel switched to a completely 100% software company. (See: Pingtel Completes Strategic Transition with Sale of Its Award-Winning xpressa Desktop Phone Product Line)
First, let me state that I've always loved Pingtel's VoIP phones which include a very cool LCD display with the ability to run Java applets. In fact, their vision was that users could access the phonebook on the LCD display, lookup a local pizzeria, and even be "pushed" a coupon for a discount or special.
But the high pricetag on the Pingtel phones as well as competition from Cisco and other VoIP phones that also often had LCD displays took some of the competitive advantage away from Pingtel.
Pingtel came to TMC Labs a couple of months ago and gave us a preview of their open-source IP-PBX called SIPxchange. I put it through some rigorous tests and was impressed with the results. I hope to publish the results of the testing in the October issue of Internet Telephony Magazine. So keep your eye out.
You might say Pingtel is an "open source competitor" to Asterisk. It sounds contradictory to say the words "open source" and "competitors" in the same sentence, but indeed Pingtel and Asterisk could be considered as such, since both are open-source IP-PBXs.
In any event, the announcement that Pingtel has sold off its hardware did not surprise me. Pingtel's focus on their open-source IP-PBX is a good idea. Their competitor, Asterisk certainly has a loyal fan base and a lot of traction in the open-source community, so it remains to be seen if the community will embrace the Pingtel platform. From what I have seen of SIPXchange's feature-set, I don't see why not.