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Tim McDermott, president of MAC Source Communications, a Syracuse, N.Y.-based solution provider, said he was sitting with a customer during Avaya's presentation and the customer immediately asked him to spec out how to deploy the Flare platform for several employees.
"It's got some sex appeal and it's something to show," McDermott said. "It's deliverable to a number of users in the enterprise and not something you'd take just to a traditional IT decision maker. It's something to get users in all capacities excited about."
Steve Bernard, vice president of distributor Westcon Group's Convergence unit, said the Flare debut beat his expectations as the first game-changing announcement Avaya has made since acquiring Nortel's enterprise unit.
"Now that they're together, it's the first real exciting announcement that end-users are going to grasp," Bernard said. "It's an eye-catcher, and gives a lot of end users a real compelling reason to look at upgrading the base."
If there's an obvious downside, said channel partners, it's that the tablet device itself, at an estimated $2,000 a pop, is prohibitively priced. Taken in context though -- a collaboration overhaul for existing infrastructure -- it should hold appeal for enterprise customers, they said.
"It's going to be a little more high-end, and the large enterprise is where it's going to fit," said Don O'Brien, regional sales director for Shared Technologies, a Coppell, Texas-based solution provider. "IT budgets are just starting to come back, so I think the whole sales piece of this is going to be convincing people there's a real ROI around it. But I think there are places where it's going to fit very well."
Zeus Kerravala, senior vice president and distinguished research fellow at The Yankee Group, said the $2,000 price point was undoubtedly high, but a high-priced mobile device is the wrong way to think about Avaya's launch.
"The Flare device itself isn’t what the company is buying, but instead the ability to aggregate all of a worker’s multimedia collaboration tools into one experience and display it in a way that’s usable," wrote Kerravala in a Wednesday blog post for NoJitter.com. "We live in a world today of information overload and while the device itself doesn't decrease the amount of information it does help organize it and allow for custom experience to help sift through it faster."
Forrester analyst Henry Dewing sees the Avaya Desktop Video Device among a class of mobile devices that "will enable a new breed of collaborative information worker -- the corridor warrior who works as often in a conference room as an office and is constantly connected via Web and videoconferencing software to peers and colleagues to gather and sift information to drive faster and better decision-making."
"At the end of the day, vendors of these devices will need to design them so that they will fill the now-open space in the market --- helping information workers connect with each other, share information, create new idea and make decisions seamlessly and naturally regardless of location," wrote Dewing in a blog post Wednesday. "User experience and seamless multi-network connectivity are the keys to success and I can see progress toward that goal being made differently by each vendor."
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