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A Look Back at Unified Communications in 2013

December 24, 2013 | Telepresence Options

unified communications

Story and images by Zeus Kerravala / nojitter

A year of M&A activity, executive changes, new products and more.

The year is almost over and oh, what a year we had--some M&A activity, executive changes, new products and a bunch of other events. Here are the newsworthy items and other trends that I thought stood out above all others:

The Year of Lync

Without a doubt, 2013 will be remembered as the year Lync moved out of the labs and into the mainstream. Almost every reseller and systems integrator I speak to tells me that a significant number of their customers are asking for Lync today. Prior to 2013, Microsoft had focused on getting customers to deploy Lync for chat and presence. This year, Microsoft and many of its partners pushed customers to trial Lync voice, and while I think Microsoft still has some challenges with voice, the company certainly legitimized itself as a voice vendor.

Lync mobile also has much better feature parity on non-Microsoft devices, which had previously been a huge Achilles heel for the company. These are the primary reasons that reseller and customer interest in Lync is at an all-time high. Additionally, a number of vendors, such as Polycom and Aastra, launched Lync-compatible phones to complement the Lync-optimized phones on the market, giving customers a broader set of IP phones to choose from.

Operating System Flops

This year saw the release of two highly anticipated operating systems--Blackberry 10 and Windows 8.1. Blackberry 10 was supposed to be the new OS that would re-ignite Blackberry into being a strong #3 to Apple and Android. Windows 8.1 was supposed to fix many of the complaints of Windows 8 and drive customers to upgrade their PC operating systems. However, both operating systems flopped and did nothing to stop the exodus of users away from these platforms. It's certainly hurting Microsoft, but the company is shifting focus to cloud and mobile. For Blackberry, it's not quite time to turn out the lights, but they are certainly dimming.

Oracle Buys into Communications

When you have the kind of capital that Larry Ellison and Oracle have, you can do a lot of things. You could sponsor the America's Cup team, blow off your own keynote at Oracle OpenWorld and then watch your team come from behind to win the cup. Or you could buy the Hawaiian island of Lanai. Well, Ellison did both and then ponied up the money to buy both Tekelec, the market leader in Diameter signaling, and session border controller (SBC) market leader Acme Packet. For those who didn't think Oracle was a serious communications player, think again--they're here to stay.

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