Is the Desktop Phone Dead?

  • Softphone adoption is skyrocketing in business.
  • Key drivers are flexibility, mobility, and new telework models.
  • With the addition of a USB telephone device, softphones are even replacing the desktop phone.

Softphones, mobile phones, and tablets are changing the way we communicate. Is it time to retire the desktop phone?

According to the Nemertes 2014-15 Enterprise Technology Benchmark, softphone adoption is skyrocketing! PC, and mobile softphones now comprise about 17% of total IP telephony endpoints but are projected to grow to more than 27% by 2015. The primary drivers behind this growth are user flexibility, the need to support an ever-increasing mobile workforce, user demand for telephony and UC access when away from the office, and the desire to support new work models like telework. Those that have the highest percentages of softphone endpoints rate their overall UC success higher than those with more limited support for software clients.

Softphones make strides in the office

But, are softphones replacing desktop phones? For about 43% of benchmark participants, the answer is “yes,” at least for PC softphones. Half are simply using softphones to supplement traditional telephones. For mobile softphones typically running on an iOS or Android device, “supplement” is the predominant deployment approach, meaning that while individuals are increasingly comfortable giving up their desktop phones for a PC-based softphone, they aren’t yet willing to rely solely on their mobile device as their sole means of communication. The reason for this disparity has a lot to do with how people still use their phones. With a PC softphone, things like battery life, wireless coverage, and the ability to multitask aren’t the issues they can be for mobile-only users.

Successful softphone deployments correlate highest with the provisioning of a USB telephone device that, at a minimum, provides speakerphone capabilities, but often looks a lot like a traditional desktop phone. However, the vast majority of those using softphones rely on USB wired headsets (71.4%); just under 10% use USB phones, and the remainder leverage Bluetooth devices.

So, is it time to retire the desktop phone? The answer is quite possibly “yes” for those comfortable with softphones, in highly mobile environments or non-traditional workspaces, and for those who value the integration that softphones offer with other business applications ahead of the functionality of a standalone telephone.


Irwin Lazar is the author of this blog post and the VP and Service Director for Nemertes Research.  AT&T has sponsored this blog post.

Irwin Lazar Vice President and Service Director Nemertes Research About Irwin