Three-quarters of all IP phone purchases over the next five years will be a waste of money, at least according to Gartner.

The analyst said companies will gravitate towards purchasing IP screen phones, but a better solution may be a screenless phone tied to a computer through an application. IP screen phones can offer productive applications for users, but these features come at a much greater cost than using a PC, analyst Bob Hafner surmised.

The money saved buying cheaper IP phones should be spent on unified communications applications instead, Hafner suggested. These applications would allow integration with instant and unified messaging services, conferencing and mobility tools. This is much more productive than having a screen on an IP phone at the same cost, Hafner said.

"Ironically in most businesses the IP screen phone is placed on the desk beside a PC that has a much bigger and higher-resolution screen," Hafner said.

"Many companies are replacing old phones with fancy, screen-based IP phones and IP/PABXs with related hardware. However, most users continue to use the new phones like their old phones, with a few new capabilities, such as viewing missed calls or directory dialling.

"We are not saying that you don't need an IP phone on your desk, but with limited budgets, companies should immediately reset their priorities from having high-end IP screen phones to having a low-end IP phone and unified communication applications that improve productivity."