The IP telephony endpoint market will be affected by the economic downturn – despite the fact an increasing number of enterprises are recognizing the benefits of both IP desktop phones and enterprise soft clients.

That’s the conclusion of Melanie Turek, principal analyst at Frost & Sullivan, which has just released its latest global study of the sector’s enterprise market.

She says that IP desktop phones are rapidly proliferating in the enterprise, displacing their analog and digital predecessors.

Today, this is largely due to declining prices and clear productivity benefits, according to Turek.

"Last year, we anticipated that PC soft phones offered a natural transition to more sophisticated UC clients," she said in her No Jitter blog.

Melanie Turek, principal analyst Frost & Sullivan

"Today, we can confirm that this new generation of soft clients is quickly penetrating the market, often replacing their old counterparts."

Turek said that thanks to the strong case around UC and the continued shift from hardware-based to software-based solutions, more telephony vendors are aggressively pursuing bundling strategies.

This includes combining platforms, server software, advanced UC clients, and access to either a-la-carte or bundled applications.

She said this has considerably boosted the penetration of enterprise soft clients such as PC desktop soft phones, advanced desktop UC clients, and mobile clients (FMC and UC).

The world enterprise IP desktop phone market continued to grow in 2008, generating USD $2.57 billion in total revenues, a 3.1 per cent increase over 2007, according to the Frost & Sullivan report.

Steady revenue decline is expected until the end of 2010, but the market is expected to gradually recover by 2011 and continue with a healthy growth pattern until at least 2015.

Turek said the world enterprise IP soft client market has more than doubled its size, from 1.0 million units shipped in 2007, to almost 2.4 million clients in 2008.

"This prominent increase in client shipments has been driven not so much by a swell of customer demand, but rather by the effective penetration strategies that many IP telephony providers have been implementing," she said.

As a result, Frost & Sullivan estimates that less than 45 per cent of total enterprise soft clients shipped in 2008 are being used as a primary tool for voice communications.

Although PC desktop softphone revenues are expected to considerably decrease over time as UC offerings penetrate the market, the higher profit margins granted by advanced UC clients and mobile FMC/UC clients are expected to largely offset this revenue decline.

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