ShorTel (NASDAQ:SHOR) is linking Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPad and iPhone with business phone systems. The latest development: ShoreTel Dock for iPad and iPhone looks like a desktop phone, but it provides a place for users to plug in their Apple devices, keep them charged and use them for ShoreTel conferencing, voice calls, and other communications.
The Dock is paired with a ShoreTel App for iPhone and iPad; ShoreTel says it will later release a version of both for Android. The dock gives network administrators control over business communications, provides users with a business phone number and corporate extension number and a connection to the corporate PBX.
It also supports the BYOD trend -- given users the power to retain some control over their own devices (by putting all the business/ShoreTel functionality into its own app). For iPad users, the Dock can be adjusted for either landscape or portrait view.
The ShoreTel Dock’s development grew out of the BYOD movement, Pej Roshan, ShoreTel VP of product management, told me. Indeed, more users want to use their own tablets as their primary communications device.
“They don’t want three phones: a desk phone, a mobile phone and a softphone,” he said. But mobile phones’ battery life, call quality and ergonomics limitations have made them ill-suited to serve as the answer to everyone’s communications needs, according to Roshan. The ShoreTel Dock is designed to turn these mobile devices into business-quality communications solutions.
The dock itself offers a “comfort” dial tone users hear when they pick up the handset and a hook set that depresses. The dock is priced at $349 list and the mobility client for the iPad and iPhone is $149.
Most of the functionality of the solution is actually inside the mobile app, including all the networking. The dock leverages the WiFi, 4G and cellular network functionality already built into the iPhone or iPad to connect with the corporate network. The user’s business phone number is in the ShoreTel app. The user’s device phone number remains his or her personal phone number.
The ShoreTel Dock and App integrate with the ShoreTel PBX as a native endpoint, but the Dock can also be attached to non-ShoreTel PBXes, Roshan said.
The dock will be available in the summer. A subsequent version will include support for Android. For small businesses without a dedicated on-premise PBX, the Shoretel Dock can be integrated with ShoreTel Sky and service will be priced at $9.99 per user per month. ShoreTel will demo the ShoreTel Dock this week at Interop 2013 in Las Vegas.