Home phone provider Ooma  just announced a new product at CES that is aimed specifically at businesses. The Ooma Office  communication system includes a lot of the same features as phone systems designed for large companies, but its target is businesses with fewer than 10 employees and it uses cloud technology to keep costs down.
The above photo shows what an Ooma Office product looks like. The main console hooks up to the internet and can also be used for fax machines. Then each extension device connects to employee phones so that they are included in the network. The service works with land line phones and cell phones and supports up to 5 phone extensions and up to 15 virtual extensions to reach remote workers.
The office system includes features like a virtual receptionist, extension dialing, conferencing, hold music, separate modes for business hours and after-business hours, HD Voice technology and more. Many of these features are pretty standard for an office phone system, but the ability to work remotely and on-the-go is becoming increasingly important for many companies.
So for modern small businesses that don’t necessarily have a full staff in the office each day, this is an option for presenting a professional communication system to customers and clients without all the added cost of a phone system designed for larger companies.
“The features in a business phone service are fundamentally important to establishing first impressions among customers – the first call often has a lasting impact,” said Jim Gustke, Ooma’s vice president of marketing.
Ooma Office starts at $19.99 per line and includes a do-it-yourself setup. Gustke said that the product’s price is one of its main draws, allowing businesses with small budgets to still maintain a professional phone system without using funds and resources that would be better allocated for other business functions.
Many small businesses don’t even find it necessary to have office phone systems anymore, with services like Skype and Google offering free or nearly free communication tools that are becoming more accepted by clients and colleagues for day-to-day communication. But for certain types of businesses, having an office phone system with multiple lines, call forwarding, and other traditional features is still important. So for those businesses, Ooma’s offering presents an interesting way to cut costs, since it is much cheaper than competitive services like Vonage.
Ooma was originally founded in 2004 and is based in Palo Alto, California. Ooma’s home phone offering, Ooma Telo, includes free calls within the U.S. The Ooma Office system will be available in Q2 of 2013 for $249 at select U.S. retailers.