The key trend that has been the driving force of unified communications is the adoption of laptops by mobile dealers.
Mobile dealers see the laptop market as a way to generate more data deals and it has in turn flourished thanks to the mobile market’s interest in providing all kinds of products one consumer may need for their communications purposes.
Selling laptops feels natural for some dealers in the channel as they are an extension to a mobile phone, but for some it’s been a little harder to sell the kit.
Perhaps, what I’m saying is that if you’re a dealer that’s closely affiliated with a network, or are a network retail outlet yourself, you’re better placed in the market to sell on the products. I’ll explain why.
After the mobile industry took its first steps into the IT space, it opened up the capabilities for hardware and in particular, VoIP, which has been a growing force. This is also down to the increasing number of smartphones which enable VoIP on the devices.
Moving forward, people will make calls predominantly through data connections and there are a few key drivers of this. Users have been used to accessing a VoIP call through their computers for a few years now and this is down to the computer industry growing and increasing in capabilities quite quickly.
They want to access the calls over the internet wherever they are and the simplest way to do this is through a device which is with you all the time – a smartphone or mini laptop.
The smartphone market is just as powerful, if not more powerful than the laptop market. If you look at the rate of growth since smartphones first came to market it’s grown so much faster than the laptop market. So, customers looking for a VoIP connection will soon enough turn to a smartphone device rather than a laptop.
The thing is, customers tend to see their network as their first point of contact when they’re deciding on new equipment because of the close relationship networks have with their end user.
Rarely do you see a customer say, “I’ll go to my manufacturer and they will guide me in the right direction.” That’s not how the high street works. In particular, this is due to the type of store you see on the high street – network stores out-number manufacturer stores.
Another factor is, people today are very demanding and increasingly want data at their fingertips. They want to access the internet from home and when out of the office, so the most logical way for this to happen is through the mobile phone which is usually tied to a network contract.
IT stockists have noticed this and are also enhancing the kit they sell and are increasingly looking at smartphones.
So, while the mobile market looks at taking on laptops and the IT market eyes smartphones, which sector will prosper? That’s purely down to the country market, and how quickly consumers figure out that the networks are in charge of their decision-making to a degree.
In America, the market is very network-led, in Europe it’s not as obvious that the network is more powerful. But things are moving in that direction.
In the short term in Europe, PC manufacturers have the upper hand because customers are more used to getting their hardware from a PC vendor, but in the long term, networks will be better placed especially as the smartphone market grows to surpass the laptop market.