Siemens plans to announce a new line of desktop phones this fall that use technology from the consumer electronics world, a U.S.-based Siemens official said in an interview Thursday.
Some of the features of the upcoming Siemens lineup will be similar to what Avaya announced Thursday, including the inclusion of a USB port, said Joan Vandermate, vice president of product line management for Siemens Communications, a unit of Siemens. She was asked about Siemens' plans following the Avaya announcement of two new desktop phones.
"We've really tried to incorporate a lot of consumer electronics know-how, and you might say have even copied a few consumer features," said Vandermate. "The focus is on an easy user interface, something we borrowed from consumer electronics. We really are going to make desktop phones look and act like consumer electronics devices such as PDAs and iPods that are more intuitive to use than the features used ... on [traditional] desk phones."
Also, a wireless Ethernet adapter that connects to the USB port on the new Siemens phones will allow them to be used throughout a Wi-Fi environment, she said.
The new line will come in up to six different body styles, from low-end, wall-mounted models to extremely high-end, executive desktop and call center models, Vandermate said. "The focus of the new line is the user interface, with a totally new design and a whole new look and feel. They will look radically different" from today's desktop phones.
Vandermate said the timing of the announcement has not been set, and she would not provide many details.
However, she said the phones will be competitive with Avaya and other manufacturers on price, partly in response to competition from low- and midrange Asian phone manufacturers. Siemens will also make the new phones interoperable with Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) standards from the start. SIP interoperability has in the past been reserved for later releases, she said. Phones will also be available for Siemens' proprietary Cornet IP-based protocol as well as for traditional circuit-switched systems, and will continue to provide high fidelity sound -- something Siemens has provided for about a year, she said.
Bluetooth headsets will also be available to transmit wirelessly at short range to the desk phones.
Unlike Avaya, Siemens will not be providing faceplates for the new phones in a range of colors, Vandermate said, noting that surveys of Siemens customers had not shown the need.