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This can’t be my original idea

I had one of those ‘eureka’ ideas this morning and it goes something like this…

Background first: Out of the roughly 500 phones in place in my district, I’m replacing 2-3 a month. This doesn’t surprise me as they’re now hitting about 6 years of use, and all of the analog phones (2/3 of the ‘fleet’) were a discontinued model when we purchased them. I’ve been replacing them with Vodavi Starplus 2700 series phones, which seem to be nearly indestructible, and carry a 5 year warranty. Seeing how the speakerphone version runs me $30 (from Hello Direct) I haven’t given it much thought.

I’ve been looking at VOIP phones, and the low end ones run $75-100. And I suddenly think, boy, if I could buy a phone that handled both analog and VoIP, I could start buying them now and save $30/phone down the road by not replacing bad phones now and again when we roll out VoIP. I’d end up saving over $9,000 (if I replaced 300 phones) and make the cost of our initial implementation seem $30,000 lower as we’d spread some of the phone purchases out over a couple of years.

Well, I must be a genius, because 15 minutes of googling came up with nada, nothing, zilch. This can’t be that hard to do – I see el-cheapo analog phones at the store in the $1-5 range all the time, so it wouldn’t make the phone cost that much more. You could even use the same jack and have it auto-sense service or have a switch between analog and Ethernet. So I guess I’ve got the start to my first patent in my patent portfolio that will make me a gazillionaire.

Seriously, does anyone know of such a device? I honestly can’t believe this is my original idea…

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