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5/19/2009
01:53 PM
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Interop: HP Entering IP Desk Phone Market, Kind Of

This morning, HP announced that it would soon begin selling IP desk phones, a potentially lucrative way to inch up competition with Cisco in networking and communication. However, it's already uncertain just how much HP really cares about phones.

This morning, HP announced that it would soon begin selling IP desk phones, a potentially lucrative way to inch up competition with Cisco in networking and communication. However, it's already uncertain just how much HP really cares about phones.The announcement: As part of a new $180 million, four year partnership with Microsoft on unified communications, HP said it would begin selling IP desk phones that integrate with Microsoft Office Communications Server. The new business would be part of the company's peripherals business.

In an interview yesterday, HP ProCurve VP and general manager Marius Haas said the company would draw partially on its expertise building the iPaq smart phone to help develop its IP desk phones. It's unclear when the first of the IP desk phones would be released, as Haas only said it would be "soon."

However, in a classic example of mixed messages, this morning HP was already on stage at its Interop keynote address dissing the general idea of IP phones. You can either spend $300 on an IP phone, an HP exec said while holding up what even from afar was obviously a Cisco IP desk phone, or you could shell out $300 for an HP Mini notebook that can run Microsoft Office Communications and a whole host of other apps.

There was no mention made during the keynote of HP's upcoming desk phone, no demo and no reference in the accompanying PowerPoint slides. If HP doesn't want to compete in this market, if it thinks the PC will supersede the phone, then why announce anything at all? I know it's early, but HP needs to either commit, make sure its marketing messages are straight, or not get into desk phones.

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