Cisco Killing Cius Softly
BYOD and software claim another victim.
A little over a year ago, at Enterprise Connect 2011, Barry O'Sullivan of Cisco told a keynote audience that, one year hence, the company's Cius tablet would be its single largest-selling endpoint. Instead, just over a year after O'Sullivan made that prediction, Cisco has decided to kill the Cius.
The announcement came in a blog post by Cisco's 2012 Enterprise Connect Cisco keynoter, OJ Winge. Here's the key takeaway paragraph:
"Cisco will no longer invest in the Cisco Cius tablet form factor, and no further enhancements will be made to the current Cius endpoint beyond what's available today. However, as we evaluate the market further, we will continue to offer Cius in a limited fashion to customers with specific needs or use cases."
So, technically, not killing Cius. But there's no reason to expect Cisco will expend much effort to sell the tablets from here on in.
Instead, Winge wrote, Cisco will focus on its software communications platforms--the Jabber UC client and the WebEx conferencing system.
Though there were no rumblings of the move outside the company, it shouldn't come as any surprise. Cisco has been shedding hardware businesses that straddle the consumer and enterprise worlds, similarly dropping the Flip video camera and umi home telepresence system. Cisco will always be a company that depends on hardware--routers, desktop phone sets, and servers, to name just a few of its most lucrative products. But Winge's announcement clearly shows that in the world of communications devices, the only money to be made in hardware is if you happen to be a manufacturer of consumer devices or traditional phones.
It's clear that there is no such thing as a general-purpose enterprise tablet, any more than there is an enterprise smartphone. Enterprise communications vendors may still compete to run high-value software on consumer devices, and they may be able to integrate their communications systems with applications that run on those consumer devices; but they've learned the hardware game is tough for them to compete in.
One interesting thing about the timing of OJ Winge's announcement is it came out the same day that Polycom announced a major corporate refocusing that, as Zeus pointed out in this post, recognizes much the same reality that Cisco bowed to with its Cius decision: It's all about software now.
I said above that there's no such thing as a general-purpose enterprise tablet, but as OJ Winge notes in describing the limited scenario for continuing Cius, enterprise tablets may well live on as an extremely niche-y product, distinguished by physical form factor adaptations to accommodate specific use cases--an obvious example being ruggedized units for field workers in industries like public utilities
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