How the Consumer Market is Driving the Commercial Phone Market

November 7, 2016 Collaboration, Trends

A colleague and I were recently talking about how his high school aged daughter only uses text and FaceTime. Voice calling just doesn’t happen. This made me reflect on how far we’ve come since I first remember using the phone and how much the consumer market is driving the commercial market these days.

I remember the old green phone at my Grandparent’s river house. It was an ugly 60s shade of green and had a huge rotary dial on the front. It took forever to pull the number you were dialing around and let it rotate back. Long distance calls were time consuming to dial. You also had to check and make sure you could use the line. The river house was on a party line. You could pick it up and find others already talking.

Telecommunications has come a long way. The progression has been slow at times but remarkable: touch tone calling, cellular phones, phones with data and applications. It’s this latest phase of cell phones with data capabilities and all the apps they run that takes me back to my colleague’s daughter. Prior to high speed data, cellular phones couldn’t send the video needed for face time. Now, I can face time with my daughter and her girlfriend while they vacation in England. The video quality is great even an ocean away.

Apps have also played a huge role in changing the way we communicate. It seems odd to me now not to be able to FaceTime a friend with a photo and an update rolled into one. I can also watch or post YouTube videos as I fly across the country. I can connect my Instagram to other applications so when my friends see my latest Strava biking distance, they also see any photos I took. I’ve used IFFT to make sure that any photos where I am tagged on Facebook are copied to my Dropbox account.

So how does this affect the commercial side of the house? Simply put, in a big way. It took a long time before I had any options to communicate beyond just making a phone call. Numeric texting and then alphanumeric texting came along. This was driven by the phone companies. What we are seeing today is driven by developers and their imaginations. Today there are multiple applications to do nearly anything on our mobile devices, and tomorrow there will be more.

When you look at a modern phone system, it’s time to ask “Does this system have flexible integration that developers can use to write their own apps?” Over time it looks like the commercial products will be driven by the consumer ones – easy to use, flexible, and easy to develop. This isn’t taking place in decades any more either. The pace just keeps accelerating based upon the popularity and usefulness of the rapidly changing apps as they rise and fall with use.

We’ve come a long way from that party line at my Grandparent’s river house. In order to meet the demands of millennials who come from an app-centric world, communications companies have gone a long way. We’ve added Instant Messaging & Presence to match text features. We’ve had video for executive board rooms for a long time, but it has been expanded to desktop devices. Video has also become easier to use, like FaceTime. We have WebEx and similar programs that allow us to share voice, video, and content, even controlling a desktop at a remote location. These are all gigantic additions to just having voice. Companies are beginning to look at the model that Apple and Google use to allow developers to bring their third party products to market. It is truly an exciting time in unified communications!


Curtis brings over 25 years of collaboration experience to ABS. As the Collaboration Team Manager, Curtis works to ensure that ABS is consistently providing the latest collaboration technology and support to ABS clients.