Cius RIP, What Now ADVD??
For some reason the potential tablet market excited two of the major UC vendors into jumping into a market space that they were ill equipped to compete in.
Last week Cisco quietly announced the end of the Cius: "[We] will no longer invest in the Cisco Cius tablet," said Marthin DeBeer, senior vice president and general manager of Cisco's Video and Collaboration Group in a CRN interview. This appears to signal the beginning of the end of a short period where UC vendors valiantly tried to be tablet manufacturers.
In mid 2010, both Cisco and Avaya announced, within three months of each other and with great fanfare and excitement, the Cisco Cius and the Avaya Desktop Video Device (ADVD). While there are some who feel that the Cius expiration is a negative, it seems to me that it is the inevitable progress of communications solutions from a vertically integrated system to being a component of an overall IT architecture. And it is a reflection of the inherent shortcomings in both designs. Where we are today could have been predicted in late 2010.
When VoIP and voice soft clients came about in the early 2000s, the event did not encourage the communications vendors to run out and get into the PC market. At the time there was clear recognition that the integration of voice services into PCs was not a logical reason to enter into the highly competitive world of PC manufacturing. However, for some reason the potential tablet market excited two of the major UC vendors into jumping into a market space that they were ill equipped to compete in.
To be fair, when work on the ADVD and Cius was started (probably in 2009), it was before the iPad was announced, so we should cut the companies some slack. However, the market entries of both the Cius and ADVD seemed to be done without regard to the realities of the market in mid 2010 when they were launched. Never mind that Apple introduced the iPad in April of 2010 and by July there was already talk of an iPad 2; never mind that the price points for the UC devices were 2-4 times the iPad (though with the deep 50% discounts typical in the UC space, these were much closer in reality than they appeared); never mind that both devices had significant issues with their form factor and usability; and never mind that both were based on early versions of the Android operating system and had not migrated to the newer and more stable/featured versions and would not support open Android apps. For almost 2 years they were positioned as the flagship desktop solutions of their respective companies. Even when Apple announced the iPad 2 with dual cameras, the UC vendors continued to position their devices as superior. In the end the iPad 3 with the HD quality of the Retina Display and a reasonable camera for video (the FaceTime camera is still only VGA quality) may have been the death knell. How things have now changed: Cius is gone and ADVD was a virtual no-show at the recent Avaya User Group (IAUG) event.
As I said, both the Cius and the ADVD were hampered by bad design choices, especially when compared with the best that Apple and Korea have offered since their introduction. While the Avaya ADVD was a reasonable screen size at 10.6 inches, the design was really heavy (at 3.3 pounds, over twice the iPad 3) and uncomfortable to carry due to a sharp lip. The Avaya ADVD was, as its name implies, a relatively small desktop video system with minimal portability. The expensive video chipsets in the ADVD gave superior video, but the screen was too small to take real advantage of the enhanced resolution.
The Cius concept was, while more carry-friendly due to weight and shape, hampered by a small 7 inch screen as part of its "drop into the phone" design. From the outset this was an obvious flaw. If a device is going to be hand carried, instead of "pocketable" like the typical 3-4 inch screen size Smartphone, it is much preferable to carry a 9-11 inch device than a 7 inch. A 10 inch screen device has twice as much useable area as a 7 inch device and, in screens, size matters. As I blogged when Cius was announced, it suffered from the "Death in the Middle" syndrome of being too large to put in your pocket and too small to be really useful as a display device. In fact, when the late Steve Jobs was asked if he was planning a 7 inch iPad, his response was that 7 inch tablets were "DOA" (Dead on Arrival).