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Panelists Put up Prizes to Make a Point about IP Endpoints

Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is. The familiar challenge is being taken up by three expert speakers who will be awarding prizes to attendees of their session, End Games: Selling and Servicing IP Endpoints, at The Spring 2006 Channel Partners Conference & Expo.

Solutions providers have a chance to win one of three prizes put up by the panelists, who include Neal Shact, CEO of Communitech Services Inc., Simon Gwatkin, vice president of strategic marketing for PBX maker Mitel Networks Corp., and Robert Messer, president and founder of distributor ABP International Inc.

The prizes include a USB Clarisys Combo Telephone/Speaker phone from Communitech Services, a Mitel 5310 IP Conference Unit from Mitel, and a free training course on VoIP Fundamentals and IP PBXs from ABP.

Winners will be selected at the end of the session from business cards collected from delegates in attendance at the session, 4:30-5:20 p.m., Wednesday, March 1.

The prizes are a way to raise the profile for an important topic that can impact partners success and profitability selling hosted and software-based IP PBXs, according to the panelists.

Whether selling phone equipment is familiar or new to them, solutions providers are advised to rethink their ideas about IP endpoints, says Neal Shact, CEO of Communitech Services Inc. After 20 years as a phone distributor, Shact says IP endpoints are a different animal.

A phone is a phone, but an IP endpoint is more like a data terminal, he says. If you think of them that way, its much easier to understand the issues interoperability, software upgrades, bugs — that impact sales and support.

The session will review the available types of IP endpoints phones, softphones, PDAs, wireless devices, headsets and video devices.

Among the available endpoints, Messer said videophones have been slow to take off but the dual-mode Wi-Fi/cellular phones should be popular once widely available, but that wont be until 2007. A more immediate opportunity, he said, is in softphones, which range in capability from the common pop-up dial pads to IM-based video to complex collaborative applications that support instant meetings and co-browsing.

The panelists will go over pricing and margins as well as other key criteria power source, platforms and number of lines supported, for example to consider when deciding which endpoints to sell and support.

Pricing has settled in the last six months, but that doesnt mean there wont be decreases, said Messer, but he cautions against buying on price alone. The low-price leader may not be able to sustain a channel.


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