Live From CiscoLive 2014
Probably the most compelling reason for the new devices: Cisco sees 8-to-1 pull-through on additional product and services when it sells an endpoint.
This is the second week in a row I've spent a fair amount of time sitting in conference rooms and ballrooms listening to Cisco's latest messages. Last week it was in Phoenix at the Cisco Customer Collaboration analyst meeting, and this week it is here at CiscoLive and its concurrent event for industry analysts, C-Scape. Never have the two events been so close in time or, more importantly from my point of view, in sync in terms of messaging.
While CiscoLive is about the entire product portfolio, it is heartening to see the amount of attention being paid to Cisco's collaboration portfolio. One of the big collaboration announcements was around two new video conferencing desktop devices, the DX 80 (24-inch touch screen, street price $2,000) and DX 70 (14-inch touch screen, street price $1,000). The units are pictured below--the wireless keyboard and water bottle help give perspective to the size of the devices.
The first question that comes to mind is why Cisco believes these new devices will succeed where Cius failed so dramatically within the last few years? I had the opportunity to ask that question directly of Cisco CEO John Chambers during an industry and financial analyst Q&A session, and he was remarkably frank. His response can be summed up in two points: Sometimes Cisco will try things and fail and Chambers prefers that to being too risk averse. Also, these are different devices with different, more-specific use cases.
Talking about the new products to industry analysts, the VP/General Manager of Collaboration at Cisco, Rowan Trollope, said, "The only reason we will build hardware is if we can improve the experience dramatically." Otherwise, the company will use off the shelf products. Rowan did not believe that there were products available to deliver the video and audio quality that customers are looking for.
Talking to a product manager on the show floor, I heard another reason for the confidence in the DX 80 and DX 70--the popularity of the EX 90, Cisco's existing larger executive videoconferencing unit. There is feedback from customers that there is a demand for a similar--but more moderately priced--unit suitable for a broader audience. The DX 80 and 70 are smaller, much cheaper, are touch-enabled and run the Android operating system. Probably the most compelling reason for the delivery of new devices is the factoid that Cisco sees 8-to-1 pull through on additional product and services when it sells an endpoint.
So if Cius was a failure, how will Cisco measure success with the DX 80 and DX 70? When I asked this question of Rowan Trollope, he replied: Units sold. When I asked how many, he turned it around and asked me what I thought. Putting a stake in the ground, my answer was that success would consist of coming to CiscoLive 2015 with 100,000 units sold. Upon reflection, given the vagaries of introducing the new products to channel partners, I've revised that to 50,000. Check back here after CiscoLive in June 2015 in San Diego.