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Cisco IP Phones Now Have HOLD Button!

Did anyone take notice that Cisco Systems introduced a new 6900 series of IP phones? The three new models (6921, 6941, and 6961 provide an "easier-to-use endpoint experience," according to the product datasheet, and support a "single-call per-line appearance, offering a traditional telephony-like interaction for customers who seek this type of call experience for their users." Interestingly enough the new desktop instruments are designed with fixed keys for hold, transfer, and conference.Anyone who has attended my past workshops and conference sessions at VoiceCon may probably remember one of my occasional rants that Cisco forgot to include a fixed red-colored HOLD button as part of it 7900 series design. A 7900 station user is required to use the soft key interactive display to implement Hold when needed. I am not taking personal credit for forcing Cisco to develop more traditional telephone instruments with fixed feature keys and more line appearance buttons (the new 6961 model has 12; 50% more than the top of the line 797X models), because one can conclude that Cisco listened to existing and potential customers who asked the supplier for more affordable IP telephone instruments with less new technology and more "old" design attributes. When the future of desktop telephone instruments is in question, it is important to note that Cisco still believed it necessary to commit and spend financial resources to design, develop and bring to market the 6900 series.

Cisco's action was similar to that taken by Avaya after it introduced its valueline1600 series not long after the debut of its current generation 9600 series (IP telephones that also lacked a fixed Hold button, despite many more advanced attributes). The difference between the two suppliers is that Avaya was designing and developing the 1600 series when the 9600 series was originally announced, because the old line supplier knew that not all station users required a more expensive, higher performance IP telephone to replace their aging digital instruments. It took Cisco the better part of a decade to introduce its 6900 series following the debut of the 7900 series many, many years ago. And even then Cisco forgot to use a red button for the Hold feature to make it distinct and easy to find on the keypad. One step at a time, I guess.