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Who's Ahead in Unified Communications?

First, the question of which vendors are the likeliest providers of UC clients. This one goes, hands-down, to Microsoft, whose OCS/Communicator is already used by 32% of respondents; another 37% are considering it.

Dig down to the next level and you get some interesting results. In terms of "already using," the runners-up to Microsoft are, respectively, Public IM clients (22%) and Skype (17%), ahead of IBM/Lotus (16%) and Cisco Unified Personal Communicator (11%). What this tells us is that UC is still an ad hoc, grassroots application. Even the Microsoft portion really says as much: Is anybody really running their business's communications on OCS? These are almost certainly pilots, trials, and early rollouts; a keen measure of Microsoft's head start in the market, but not a sign that they've won (yet).

When you look at who these respondents say they're "considering," the big winner is Cisco, which draws a 40% share, actually outpacing Microsoft's 37%. Notably, only 6% are considering IBM/Lotus.

Furthermore, bolstering the argument that Skype and Public IM aren't going to be the long-term answer, only 7% and 10%, respectively, are considering these two for their UC clients. Not surprisingly, 53% are "not considering" Skype, and 46% are not considering Public IM clients.

Now look at this "not considering" number for Cisco and Microsoft. Just 27% aren't considering Cisco and 13% aren't considering Microsoft, meaning the two titans have vast upside potential here. And when Brent zeroed in on the largest enterprises (10K+ employees), the picture looks even more pronounced: Almost half (42%) are already using OCS to some extent, and another 27% are considering it. Cisco's UC client is currently in use with just 13% of these enterprises, but another 35% are considering them.

Not to get back on my Cisco/PostPath hobbyhorse, but if Cisco had an Exchange-compliant email component to UPC, might that not pry open still more of this market?