The Lync Ecosystem Approach

by Douglas Schlosser

It is important to understand that Lync is built on an Ecosystem Approach. Ok that’s a fancy way of saying it requires other vendors and manufacturers besides Microsoft to deliver a full Lync solution. Is that a bad thing? This Ecosystem Approach is used by many software companies and it is quite simple, build software that hardware/software manufacturers can develop devices for. Some competitors point to this strategy as a negative for Lync. We say, Leveraging an ecosystem approach when it comes to UC allows for more choice, faster development, quicker time-to-market of new products, and more competition amongst commodity devices like IP Phones, Headset, PC/Laptops and Webcams.

Let’s take a look at what another software company has done with an Ecosystem Approach, Yes Google!

First some background and key dates to remember. The first iPhone was sold in June of 2007 and the first Android phone in October 2008. Apple had a 1+ year lead in taking market share from the powerhouse of the day RIM, and results show us the YES indeed Apple did take market share from RIM, lots of it!

Even though a year behind Apple, Google embraced an Ecosystem Approach for its operating system that hardware manufactures and software developers could build against. Apple and RIM decided to continue to develop proprietary hardware to run their operating systems. Have a look at the chart above; according to IDC this is how the mobile phone Market Share looks today. Isn’t it interesting that Google’s Android has almost 75% Market Share and growth of 51% Year-Over-Year and even Microsoft’s Windows Phone has seen significant growth of 156% Year-Over-Year. Apple and RIM show significantly less growth and Market Share. Remember, Blackberry was the dominant Smartphone manufacturer and Apple made a huge splash and took tons of market share from RIM. But why only 7 years later is Google’s Android on top and Microsoft’s Windows Phone is making significant gains? Because both Google and Microsoft have leveraged the power of an Ecosystem Approach to advance their products. Ok, so I know you are all siting there going but Doug both Google and Microsoft purchased cell phone manufacturers?, I know but don’t you think that is more about Google and Microsoft cashing in on weaker hardware manufacturers in Motorola and Nokia, I do.

Now let’s look at the tablet market. Apple was first out of the gate with the iPad and rapidly built up a large market share. However, in 2013, Apple’s tablet market share has fallen to 35% compared to 45% in 2012; according to IDC. According to IDC Apple’s share in the tablet space will fall to 30.6% by 2017.

The question is who will benefit at the expense of Apple? Is it going to be Google’s Android or Microsoft’s Windows? Here is why I and many analysts believe it is going to be Microsoft’s Windows. Even though Microsoft Surface tablets have not sold well, Microsoft has increased its market share from 0.9% in 2012 to 3.4% in 2013. Furthermore, IDC estimates that Microsoft’s share of tablets will rise to 10.2% from present 3.4% by 2017 while Google Android’s market share will fall to 58.8% from 60.8% in 2013. Interesting isn’t it? Microsoft isn’t projected to gain Market Share from Google but Apple. Yet again the Ecosystem Approach takes Market Share from those who were there first but tied their software to proprietary hardware.

The two examples above highlight that software developers that take an Ecosystem Approach eventually regain and even surpass the Market Share from those who do not.

So remember, it takes an Ecosystem to deliver a complete Lync Solution and that’s a good thing!

Leveraging the Ecosystem Approach allows customers to choose best-of-bread products for end-user devices from Polycom, HP, SNOM, Jabra, Plantronics, Sennheiser and SMART Technologies. Also, the Ecosystem Approach allows customers to pick the best of breed products for gateways, SBCs and SBAs from Acme Packet, AudioCodes, HP and SONUS that fit their individual business needs and goals.

So what does this all mean to Unified Communications? I believe that Unified Communications (UC) platforms from manufactures that have adopted a more traditional proprietary approach of locking their software to proprietary hardware (i.e. IP Phones, Gateways, Servers) will soon see their Market Share and Growth numbers look more like RIM and Apple and less like Google and Microsoft in the coming years.

Hope you have a wonderful Holiday Season!!

I’m off for some much needed vacation time with the family.

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