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Lenovo, Avaya Team For IP Phone Integration

PC maker Lenovo and IP telephony vendor Avaya  today announced a collaboration to integrate Avaya's IP-based soft phones  into Lenovo's ThinkPad laptops.

Doing so will allow business users who use the two products together to make IP-based phone calls via the ThinkPad's Internet connection, whether that's at work while connected to the LAN or on the road with a Wi-Fi connection.

As part of the alliance, the integrated fingerprint reader in Lenovo’s ThinkPads and Password Manager technologies will support Avaya’s IP Softphone solution. This will bar unauthorized people from using a Softphone or accessing their phonebook if the laptop is lost.

In another nifty feature of the integration, Avaya's communications software will work with the ThinkLight feature of Lenovo notebooks. ThinkLight is a small light that illuminates the keyboard in a dark space. If the person has voice mail waiting, the ThinkLight will blink at them.

The benefit will clearly be for mobile users. Anyone who has tried to get a cell phone connection inside concrete fortresses like most modern convention centers, especially an underground facility like the Moscone Center in San Francisco, knows that hassle.

But with Wi-Fi connectivity a standard feature offered at conferences and conventions these days, you now will be able to make calls that would otherwise be difficult or impossible on a cell phone.

"We think it's a great combination of two innovators. We felt the timing was right, with more ubiquitous connections available, mobile workers were wanting more connectivity and integration and simplicity of the tools they use," Peter Gaucher, executive director of strategic alliances for Lenovo told internetnews.com.

Gaucher said this bundle won't carry a premium over the cost of a ThinkPad and Avaya phone sold separately, and for large customers, arrangements could be made to include Avaya software in their software image. Major corporate accounts define an image of what software they want pre-loaded on all of their hardware, and Lenovo will add Avaya's software to that image.

Lenovo has no interest in going for a lower end market. "This is aimed at mid-market and above, largely due to the positioning of Avaya's software. They are more of an enterprise provider. Lower-end services are available through Skype and other providers," said Gaucher.

Samir Bhavnani, research director with Current Analysis, told internetnews.com that there is definitely a need for this kind of integration.

"The question is how much demand. The ThinkPad is probably the most respected notebook brand out there for corporations. What this will do is give the ThinkPad a selling advantage over some of the systems available from other vendors, in that they are trying to provide a secure environment," he said.

Lenovo expects to begin offering integrated systems by this summer.