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Teams on Pace to be the Most Popular Softphone in the World

Teams on Pace to be the Most Popular Softphone in the World

This article by Elliot Mulley-Goodbarne was originally published here on UC Today

Dominance depends on whether the tech giant is committed to an open affordable platform

The softphone is not a new invention but it may be something that businesses have finally discovered now that 90% of our professional communications are run through a screen as a result of the pandemic.

But as we enjoy Microsoft Ignite this week, with doubtless new integrations in Teams, and an update on the popularity of the largest collaboration platform in the world, as if 115 million daily active users wasn’t enough, Microsoft is now set to dominate yet another market according to Micah Singer, Managing Director at TeamMate Technology.

“The softphone is an important area of growth for Teams. More remote means more businesses are interested in a softphone in their Teams workspace, as calls can be taken on mobile, where Teams has 60M DAUs, or laptops and with Microsoft Teams hard phones”

It’s easy to see where he is coming from. Even before the pandemic hit, the value of the UCaaS market was predicted to top $28.8 Billion in 2024 with softphones a key enabler of the VoIP and Cloud PBX that would grow.

Micah Singer
Micah Singer

But the market we work in is much different, and employers are coming to grips with a hybrid working style. Once again, the question of corporate communications has entered the minds of IT professionals and CIOs around the world, but this time it’s about managing external calls.

According to Singer, the criteria is simple. For the end users, softphones need to be familiar, easy-to-use and reliable.

“What a difference a year makes! At the start of last year Microsoft could have only dreamed of the usage figures that they already have today and we all know they are only gathering momentum.

“Teams has become a familiar friend to a lot of workers around the world. For a long time, it was the only way we could see our colleagues. I think the usage figures speak for themselves, and I can only see softphone usage growing as businesses reroute their corporate communications through to the platform.

“As I see it, Microsoft has the ability to sell the softphone (Direct Routing) separate from the whole Teams PBX at a lower price point. For Microsoft it would dramatically accelerate the consumption of Teams as a workspace. Most of us still need a phone in our workspace that works like a business phone is expected.”

In the last five months, Microsoft have boasted their softphone capabilities themselves, announcing support for core calling features on SIP phones from Cisco, Yealink, Polycom, and others within Teams “in the first half of 2021” and a project that saw 40,000 CenturyLink employees set up using Teams Calling within three weeks.

As Singer concludes, Teams is set to dominate the softphone market as those businesses who dipped a toe in the water with Teams a year ago are now ‘power users’ with chat, calendar, meetings and doc-sharing.  They are looking to deepen that relationship with Microsoft Teams in logical, efficient, usable ways.

“The issue centres on history and functionality. If Microsoft lowers the price-barriers, Teams will be the world’s leading softphone. If Microsoft tries to maintain higher prices and promote Teams PBX adoption ahead of 3rd party PBXs, most business phone users will be forced to stick with their existing phones and existing softphones (i.e. Cisco Webex). It makes sense that Microsoft would lower this bar for the Teams platform win.

“Teams already has the customer base to dominate the softphone market and it’s only a matter of time before those customers start to explore more ways to integrate.

“In many ways, businesses will see their adoption of Teams over the last 12 months as a trial. A trial of whether their business can grow with a remote workforce and a trial of whether Teams is the right platform for them.”

“If Microsoft continues to embrace openness with Direct Routing and the Graph API and sees Teams as a platform that benefits first from high business use, then Microsoft will have the dominant softphone in the world as well”

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