The Mac Mini PBX is Discovered

I hate writing about something that we sell through the Voxilla Store, but news is news (and no-news is no-news) and our friend Andy Abramson gave us the opening.

A German company, 4S newcom, is pitching an IP PBX that is loaded on an Apple iPod Shuffle (news?) and runs on a Mac Mini (no-news).

The system, called iBlue, will begin shipping on November 6th, to coincide with the VON Europe conference in Berlin.

An entry level system will be priced at 2,999 Euros (about US$3,750) and consists of a Mac Mini (version not disclosed), an iPod Shuffle, and five snom300 IP telephones. The low-end offering licenses up to 250 users and allows 30 concurrent calls.

It’s an interesting enough idea to get some notice from VoIP bloggers like Abramson and Rich Tehrani. But as Abramson points out, a Mac Mini based PBX is not new.

For the past year, we (meaning Voxilla) have been working with the folks at Communigate Systems (based across the Golden Gate from us in Marin County) to get the company’s full-featured cross-platfom internet communications server into the business marketplace. You can read about the product here, (please pardon the shameful internal linking).

The Comunigate Pro server runs on dozens of platforms, including Mac OSX, and comes with a SIP-based PBX, full switch, session border controller, an email server (like Microsoft Exchange, but it actually works) and an XMPP-based IM server. We run Communigate in our offices.

When five of us went to Boston for the VON show last month, we set up Communigate Pro on a Mac Mini to provide telephone service for all of us at the booth. Though the spotty internet connectivity at the Boston Convention Center provided a challenge, Voxilla Director of Engineering Eric Chamberlain got the system up and running with relative ease. The total cost for hardware and software for the system Eric set up is less than US$1,800.

The set-up was definitely a big hit at the booth. Quite a few people were startled to see a full-fledged communications server on such a small (and Mac-elegant) footprint.

We don’t sell the Mac Mini and I prefer to use the iPod as it was intended. But the Communigate Pro-Mac Mini system is slick and easy to set up by the Mac-savvy, and doesn’t have to cost a pretty Euro.