Microsoft Response Point: Unplugged?
The VAR Guy doesn’t want to jump to any conclusions, but he’s hearing rumors from multiple trusted sources that Microsoft is rethinking Response Point — the company’s channel-driven small business phone system. And when The VAR Guy dialed his Response Point source at Microsoft, the line was out of service. Hmmm.
Alas, some VARs are worried Microsoft plans to pull the plug on Response Point 2.0 development work. But let’s clearly separate the speculation from Microsoft’s official statement. Here’s the story so far.
During the SMB Nation event in New Jersey on May 1, many VARs and solutions providers expressed strong interest in Response Point. But then, Microsoft’s May 5 layoffs allegedly impacted the Response Point team.
Spreading the Word
In the May 7 blog entry, Microsoft Response Point GM John Frederiksen stated:
This week we made some changes to the Response Point business. I am not expecting impact on current customers as we will maintain the current version of the product. We want to take a good look at the next version of Response Point and ensure it addresses the needs of Small Businesses. We are thankful for the support we have received from our partners to date. We will continue to support our current OEMs, Service Providers and resellers that are selling Response Point v1.0. We will also continue to promote the product and our partners on-line. We believe there is a plenty of room for delivering breakthrough products in the communication space and will continue to investigate the opportunity in the small business segment.
Frederiksen offered another cryptic update on May 12 via Twitter, stating that Response Point will host a town hall meeting to answer questions in late May. When that meeting occurs, Frederiksen needs to answer the most basic question of all: Is Microsoft moving forward with Response Point 2.0 (the next major release) or not?
VARs and partners have since posted numerous comments/replies to the Microsoft blog entry, and some partners are speculating Response Point could be facing an end-of-life situation.
Just the Fax
Now here’s where things really get strange: The VAR Guy reached out to Rex Backman, senior business development manager for Response Point, a few minutes ago. But Backman’s line at Microsoft was out of service. The VAR Guy then called Microsoft’s switchboard, and the operator said Backman was still with the company but his phone line was down.
Hmmm. Even better, the Microsoft operator told The VAR Guy he could try faxing Backman. Sorry, The VAR Guy doesn’t do faxes. Hey Rex: Call The VAR Guy back if you’re reading this.
Dialing Up Dollars
The info above doesn’t sound reassuring. So let’s close this blog on a high note: There certainly are VARs and service providers that profit from Response Point. And Response Point earned strong interest from solutions providers attending SMB Nation, the HTG Peer Group summit and other recent events.
And yes: Many VARs already profit from Response Point. Check out SMB Phone, a service provider in Canada that generates recurring revenue plus product sales from Response Point.
The bottom line: Is there a market for small business phone systems? Absolutely. What’s the future of Response Point? Sorry, there’s static on the line and The VAR Guy doesn’t have the answer … at least not yet.