Cisco all but kills Cius tablet computer

Cisco discontinues Cius investment and development in the face of BYOD, cloud computing

Cisco is slowly killing off its Cius business tablet less than a year after it started shipping.

The Android-based collaboration tool, which featured a 7-inch touchscreen and was not intended to challenge more consumer-oriented tablets such as the Apple iPad, fell victim to the BYOD trend and cloud computing, Cisco said in a blog post.

The post, authored by OJ Winge, senior vice president of Cisco's TelePresence Technology Group, states that Cisco will discontinue investment and development of the tablet, which we reviewed in February.

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"... 95% of organizations surveyed allow employee-owned devices in some way, shape or form in the office, and, 36% of surveyed enterprises provide full support for employee-owned devices. These stats underscore a major shift in the way people are working, in the office, at home and on-the-go, a shift that will continue to gain momentum.

"Based on these market transitions, 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," the post states.

Cisco will instead "double down" on software offerings like its Jabber and WebEx products for more popular tablets and smartphones supporting a variety of operating systems, the blog states. Cisco unveiled a version of Jabber for the iPad at the Enterprise Connect conference earlier this year.

"We will leverage key learnings and key collaboration experiences native to Cius in our other collaboration products," Winge states in his post.

Cisco has been discontinuing disappointing products over the past year, specifically in consumer-oriented collaboration. It killed its Flip pocket videocam and its umi home TelePresence unit.

According to Network World's Cius review, the tablet was only available through the Cisco partner network. It cost less than $750 for an endpoint and less than $350 for a media station, for a total of under $1,100.

Market timing played a key role in Cius' demise, according to Ted Schadler of Forrester Research. As Cisco was conceiving, developing and preparing to launch Cius into the enterprise, corporate workers were already bringing their iPads to work.

"As you look at Cisco's business and portfolio, did (offering a tablet endpoint) make sense at this point in time?" Schadler asked. "There had been three Christmases of CEOs bringing their iPads to work."

There's no longer a question of what tablet enterprises will use at work; it's not a question of how to support it, Schadler said.

"Now the focus is around collaboration tools," he said. "All Cisco needs is a client on an iPad, not an actual device."

And with the exploding trend of BYOD, the business case of developing dedicated hardware sitting on an executive's desk becomes "much less interesting," Schadler says. "Cisco should be end-point agnostic, focusing instead on integration in the back-end."

Jim Duffy has been covering technology for over 25 years, 21 at Network World. He also writes The Cisco Connection blog and can be reached on Twitter @Jim_Duffy.

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