Mitel Mobile - Shape of Things to Come?

This posting seems fitting in the wake of Canada'a post-Olympic glow. Ottawa-based Mitel recently added an interesting twist to their expanding portfolio of advanced communications offerings.

Just when you thought the UC umbrella was wide enough, they launched Mitel Mobile in late January. I've written about this before, and when vendors start competing with carriers, you know the status quo is a thing of the past.

I'm just adding another perspective in the form of my latest Service Provider Views column on TMCnet. It's based on an interview with Laith Zalzalah of Mitel NetSolutions, and you can read about it here. I'm sure I won't be alone in tracking their progress, and it will be interesting to see if this is a one-off variation, or a new model for other vendors to emulate.

Meet the Canadians at IT Expo in Miami

Over the next few days, I'll be posting about the upcoming TMC ITExpo in Miami, running from January 20-22. It's coming up quickly now, and my hands have been very full with the Smart Grid Summit, which is co-located there. More about that on another post.

Right now I want to update you on the networking breakfast that's happening Friday morning. For those of you attending the ITExpo, I'm hosting this get-together sponsored by the governments of Ontario and Canada. I've been part of these breakfasts before, and it's a great way to network with up and coming Canadian tech startups in a relaxed environment.

I've posted about this before, and as of today, about half the available spots are taken for guests. If you'd like to attend, or review the agenda, drop me a line, and I'll send you the invite, which includes how to RSVP.

Aastra - Another Canadian Bright Light

Following my post the other day about MTS Allstream, I wanted to highlight another Canadian company that's on a roll these days. That company is Aastra, and I've blogged about them in the past. This is a company that has slowly built up a strong position in the IP telephony market, via both organic growth and a series of acquisitions, particularly in Europe. Aastra is one of a handful of Canadian telecom players that is publicly-traded and truly has a global reach. I know, this sounds a lot like another Canadian company that used to be a stock market darling, and if the truth be known, among Canadian telecom equipment vendors, I think Aastra is now poised to be what Nortel used to be.

Furthermore, their stock has held up well relative to other tech stocks, with a strong bounceback that has shares trading higher now than before the markets crashed last year. Much of this rides on their Q1 results which came out about 2 weeks ago. Sales took a big hit - down 16% - compared to Q4 2008, but more importantly, they're 56% higher than Q1 a year ago. Add to that rising gross margins, a sustained commitment to R&D, very little debt, and manageable operational expenses, and you have the making of a good growth story.

On the product front, they continue to innovate, and I think that has a lot to do with their success. It's hard to compete directly with the Polycoms, Avayas and Ciscos of the world, but they keep finding ways to add value to their lineup of SIP-based phones. One example is AastraLink RP, which integrates with Microsoft's Response Point, and won a 2008 TMC Product of the Year Award. Another would be ViPr, their touch screen videoconferencing solution which works with most any existing PBX. These are recent examples of how they're attacking specific niches and applications, and have many others in the mix, including Unified Communications, mobility and contact centers.

All told, there's a lot to like about Aastra, and in true Canadian style, they're doing it quietly but effectively. They should be familiar to many of my readers, but maybe not familiar enough, and with the flag-waving I'm doing this week, hopefully that will change now for the better.

Mobivox Makes Red Herring Final Cut for North America 100

Some great news for Mobivox, a Canadian company I've been following for ages, and recently did some client work for.

Their CEO, Peter Diedrich, posted on their blog late last week about Mobivox making the cut for the Red Herring 100 North America.

This is one of their industry awards events, and starts with a field of 1,200 entries. As Peter's post explains, this was reduced to the top 200, all of whom will present at their event next week, and from this will emerge the final list of the top 100.

I'm happy to share the news that Mobivox made the cut, not just because I know what they're up to, but also because they're Canadian. Too bad they didn't make the Branham 300, which spotlights Canadian up-and-comers, but somehow I think that's about to change.

I won't be attending the Red Herring event, but I wish Mobivox the best of luck. The final 200 list doesn't seem to have been published yet, so I don't know who they're up against, but to learn more about the event as well as a list of last year's winner, check out their site here.

CATA Innovation Awards - Vote Now For Canada's Best!

CATA - the Canadian Advanced Technology Alliance - is one of Canada's better-known industry groups advocating our tech sector, and they're putting their 2009 Innovation and Leadership Awards together now.

There are 9 categories, and you're all welcome to vote for best-in-class for each. Two categories are of particular interest to me - Emerging Technology and Mobile Communications. The latter is called the Ericsson MoCo Award, and I have some familiarity with all 3 companies nominated. I'm not going to tell you who I voted for, but they're all worthy choices - how's that for a balanced, analyst-like response?

Anyhow, you can review the categories and nominees here, as well as cast your vote. It's a great way to support Canada's tech sector, and the winners will be announced about a month from now, so check back with me then if you're dying to find out how your choices did.