Recession Takes Its Toll on IP Telephony Market

Legacy equipment and services are in decline, while some segments of IP-based communications are bright spot for the industry.

By Ted Stevenson | Posted Jun 26, 2009
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Recent market research reports support the conclusion that "traditional" (TDM) telephony continues to decline—at least in terms of equipment sales, and that the current economic climate is dealing different hands to different vendors of IP-based communications hardware and software.

Overall, the PBX market has shrunk more than 30 percent, year-over-year, according to a recently published report from Infonetics Research.

"A combination of less demand due to the economy, and just plain buyer uncertainty drove the market lower," according to Infonetics analyst Matthias Machowinski. The study found that sales in the strongest region, Latin America, were essentially flat.

"One of the prime drivers of PBX sales is economic expansion, and once the world's major economies recover, likely in 2010, we should see an uptick in PBX sales," said Machowinski, on a more optimistic note.

The pure IP PBX segment fared better than TDM and hybrid systems, being down, as the report put it, by 'only' 13 percent, thanks in part to new product introductions. But performance was uneven from vendor to vendor.

Cisco Systems, for example, had a very weak quarter compared to the fourth quarter of 2008, but still edged out Avaya for overall revenue leadership. On the other hand, some vendors showed growth, with Nokia Siemens being the strongest—up 13 percent.

The same downward trend applies to the carrier IP telephony services market, which, according to a recent report from Dell'Oro Group, contracted more than 25 percent in Q109, compared to the same quarter a year earlier.

Dell'Oro attributes the decline to a combination of factors: seasonal weakness, the industry's own retrenchment in capital investment, and the continuing shift of customers to cellular wireless as their primary—or sole—telephony platform.

Dell'Oro vice president Greg Collins did note some bright spots. "Business voice-over-IP (VoIP) services—particularly SIP trunking—is an example. Another example is the enterprise session border controller (SBC) market that is seeing increased consolidation and investment as SIP trunking, combined with the need for businesses to integrate IP PBX systems from disparate vendors, creates an expanding market opportunity," he said.

(This is a trend that was highlighted by Infonetics in a report made public last week, and which was covered by VoIPplanet.com.)

Dell'Oro also observed uneven performance in the vendor community, identifying Alcatel-Lucent, Huawei, and Nokia Siemens as posting gains, Cisco, Nortel, and Sonus as losing ground in the quarter.

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