Apple OS X Yosemite

From later this year Macs running Apple’s updated OSX Yosemite will be able to handle phone and text messages on desktop and laptop computers.

That’s effectively the same functionality unified communications vendors like Cisco have been selling for years.

Traditional unified communications is expensive. At least the kind of UC sold to corporations is. Unified communications often means paying high prices for additional hardware as well as hefty software licence fees.

Apple, Microsoft disrupt unified communications

Microsoft gave the market a shake with Lync, which integrates unified communications into Microsoft Office.

Apple is taking this a step further. All Macs running the new Yosemite operating system will be UC ready. There’s no need for extra hardware: cameras, microphones and speakers are built into every modern Mac.

If your Mac is on the same Wi-Fi network as your iPhone, then incoming calls will show on both screens.

Not real UC? Don’t be daft

Some vendors may argue that unified communications is more than merely linking a PC with a phone. There’s some truth in that argument. Apple’s approach probably won’t suit large organisations.

It’s like those companies who said the iPhone was ‘just a toy’ when it first appeared. We know where that thinking lead.

OS X 10.10 Yosemite brings the most important UC features to everyone other than large organisations, it makes unified communications easy-to-use and gives the technology the Apple seal of approval. That’s important.

Next step, UC apps

Microsoft’s Lync scores with small and medium-sized organisations because it replaces the complexity and expense of old school phone system support. Companies typically pay PBX suppliers hefty maintenance contract fees.

In effect, Microsoft Lync does to the PBX business what Microsoft did to mainframe makers with the personal computer.

Apple’s unified communications push won’t start in earnest until apps appear to take basic iPhone and Mac integration further. Expect to see tools making it easier to link more than two callers into online conferences among the first wave of Apple UC apps.

Viva unified communications disruption

Last year I met Audrey  William, head of research, ICT Practice, Frost & Sullivan Australia & New Zealand who said Lync would disrupt the unifed communications market in 2014. That’s definitely happening.

Now Apple is giving the market another kick.

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