Vertical Launches Slimmed-down VoIP System for Businesses with Under 50 Seats

New Wave IP 500 IP PBX boasts higher degree of integration, dramatically lower price point than its successful SMB sibling.

By Adam Stone | Posted Mar 4, 2009
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Since late 2007 IP telephony systems provider Vertical Communications has offered a suite of phone functionalities under the Wave IP 2500 banner. The product delivers desktop call management, one-click call recording, visual voicemail, presence, auto attendant, on-board reporting—even call center capabilities—to small and midsize businesses with up to 400 users.

Now the Cambridge, Mass.-based company is taking it down a notch. With the release of Wave IP 500, Vertical aims to bring the same functionality at a lower price point to businesses with fewer than 50 users.

"At least 50 percent of our [PBX] business is in that below-50-station market, so for us it was a natural progression of going after that portion of the market which we had not yet served with this whole Wave strategy," said Peter Bailey, senior vice president of product management and business development.

Vertical claims an installed base of 450,000 customer sites. In 2006 the firm had 400,000 sites and $70 million in revenues. It is no longer disclosing revenues.

Wave IP 500’s prime attraction to very small businesses promises to be its price point. With a suggested retail price of $3,395 it clocks in at less that half its big brother’s $7,345 price tag.

Vertical claims the new, scaled-down version of Wave has all the functionality of the original. Bailey says engineers labored long to make the offering as efficient as possible in terms of its design, in order to the keep cost of the product within reach of smaller businesses. "If you were to rip open the box and look at the board, there is a high degree of integration, there are fewer component on that board," Bailey said.

The company put 18 months’ effort into rebuilding the Wave. "There was a fundamental challenge to our hardware engineering," Bailey said. "To take a very complex system and reduce it to a simpler system is in itself a challenge."

With its steadily rising customer count, the company was well positioned to take on the task. In December it ranked in the top 200 on Deloitte’s 2008 Technology Fast 500, a ranking of the 500 fastest growing technology companies in North America.

Vertical has been riding that momentum to reach into a number of (as the name suggests) vertical segments including legal, real estate, banking, and education, among others.

Wave IP 500 is surely intended to bring in new clientele over time. In the short term, though, the company envisions making the new offering available to its present installed base. Bailey will be looking to the dealer channel to push the product, and Vertical has been pushing hard to beef up its reseller relations as it rolls out the new product.

In particular the company has unveiled a broad-based web portal, V-Connect, that it says will help ensure open communications between the company and its channel partners.

Beyond the usual product and pricing information, dealers can use V-Connect blogs to communicate with other registered Vertical partners. "It also gives them direct access to Vertical employees and executives. We are all part of the V-Connect community and are able to connect with our dealers on a daily basis," Bailey said. "Every day a channel has things it needs from its vendors, whether it is a pre-sales question or a technical question. This is all about making that information as easily accessible as possible."

Bailey is eager to keep up those dealer ties, since it relies on its dealers to do more than just sell. Often it is the dealers who in large measure help determine the company’s development strategies. With their deep reach into various verticals, dealers have been actively building custom applets that Vertical in turn has been able to make available to others in similar niches.

For example, with its 6,000 installed systems CVS Pharmacy has implemented a range of reporting tools within Vertical products. Advanced Auto likewise has built industry-specific call-handling capabilities. In these and other cases, Vertical has parlayed those tools into functionality for like-minded retailers.

While one might question the timing of a new product release, Bailey said he is looking to the recession as a potential plus.

"Because of the value proposition of the 500, we feel very fortunate that it is coming out when it is," he said. Given the advantages of SIP trunking and the promise of a quick ROI, "people are responding very well to those types of marketing messages right now."

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