Years ago I realized that mobile phones would get cheaper and cheaper and eventually cause a threat to the PBX vendors of the world. Of course… trends are generally easy to spot but timing technology adoption is generally very difficult.
My friends, the time has come for PBX vendors to fear the mobile phone as a company called OnRelay is embarking on a super-aggressive campaign to get us to scrap our desk phones for mobile devices.
In a conversation with company President and CFO Marie Wold I got to see her configure her phone settings right from an application on her Nokia phone. When I asked her repeatedly if you could also use a web portal to change the settings of the phone service, she repeatedly answered, "Why would you need a web browser?" At first I thought she was being difficult but then I realized in most cases she is likely right. Besides, it is tough to argue with a company whose marketing says they will help eliminate 47 million Kg of e-waste. The company’s solution allows ad-hoc conferencing, Caller-ID, business/personal modes OCS integration and presence detection. Wold refers to the solution as a desk phone in your pocket.
She went on to explain that 80% of phone system costs are in the wiring and phones. She does have a valid point when you consider many companies do install a second network for their IP communications.
The software supports Symbian and Windows Mobile devices and is 100% functional while roaming.
What I like best about the solution is the redundancy built-in meaning that if you do a search on a contact and your web connection dies due to a weak signal while searching — an SMS is sent to you with the information you need.
The company’s solutions do make sense in instances where a company doesn’t mind supplying all workers with mobile devices and plans. After all, there are wireless costs that offset some of the waste the company helps stop.
In addition to enterprise solutions, OnRelay just launched a mobile branch exchange (MBX) solution for service providers looking so sell hosted wireless solutions.
There are drawbacks to such a solution as not every company wants to pay for cellular phones throughout the enterprise. But still, there are some industries where most of the staff already has company-supplied mobile devices. I would think however that in many of these cases, Blackberrys are in use and one would imagine OnRelay should come up with a solution supporting these devices soon.
In the mean time it will be very interesting to see how PBXs without IP phones work in the real world… Stay tuned.