The Future of IP Multimedia Phones
The telephone is back, with touchscreens, video calls, YouTube, widgets and more.
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Touchscreen phone access to info and multimedia may become commonplace soon, thanks to products like Grandstream’s GXV3140.
December 07, 2009 by Arlen Schweiger

Aren’t home phones going the way of the dodo?

I thought all we needed was an iPhone, BlackBerry or Palm Pre for all of our communications needs. But traditional telephones are alive and well — and there are plenty of apps for them.

Like cell phones, they’re just … changing. You’ve no doubt heard about VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) from Vonage and cable TV services, but in the coming years the buzz will be about IP multimedia phones.

Market research company In-Stat is calling it “the fourth screen” in the home, after televisions, computers and mobile handsets. Screens that enable video calling, as well as other always-on “IP multimedia” goodies, will aid what In-Stat forecasts to be a $4 billion to $8 billion global market by 2013.

Several manufacturers are already rolling out the IP multimedia phone train, including: AT&T, Verizon, OpenPeak, LG, Panasonic, Ojo, Leadtek, and Grandstream Networks. Most phones feature:

  • A 6-to-10-inch color touchscreen display
  • Web- and network-based audio, video and photo content access
  • Widget-like information such as news, stock quotes, sports scores and weather forecasts
  • visual voicemail
  • Digital photo frame capability
  • Local purchases if you want to order a pizza

“They’re comparable in price to normal VoIP phones, but IP multimedia phones have a rich interface that allows for streaming live content. Always-on access to news updates and weather reports will be a strong driver of consumer adoption,” says Khris Kendrick, senior director of business development for Grandstream. “Consumers have become addicted to 24-hour news and weather channels, yet neither TV nor Internet sites can offer one-touch, instant access to information, and the media phone can.”

Other benefits:

  • More telecommuting or teleconferencing, less travel
  • Less reliance on home computer usage
  • Fewer gadgets to clutter your home
  • Less time spent watching TV

Actually, some of the latest broadband TVs can, but they’re not cheap and you may not need a new one. So can slick home automation touchpanels, but they cost thousands of dollars — and you may want to simply pull up a YouTube video or play a few MP3s at breakfast without investing in a larger control or A/V system. Netbooks have stripped down PCs to focus on web and widgets, but they require boot-up and the interface isn’t as user-friendly.

Grandstream’s GXV3140 ($299) phone, by contrast, can pull up thousands of Internet radio stations, communicate with instant messenger programs, deliver personalized RSS feeds, act as a calendar and plug into a computer or TV for a larger display — and it lets you make free voice or video calls worldwide upon installation.

Somewhere E.T. is smiling.

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Arlen Schweiger - Contributor, Electronic House Magazine
Arlen writes about home technology installations and product news and reviews for electronichouse.com and Electronic House magazine.

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