Cisco tablet not an iPad knock-off: Chambers

Cius will stay in the enterprise, not make its way to the coffee table

LAS VEGAS -- Cisco's new Cius tablet for business collaboration will remain a workplace tool and not morph into a consumer-market competitor to the iPad or Kindle, company CEO John Chambers told a press roundtable at Cisco Live here this week.

"It's complementary to the iPad," Chambers said. "We do want to have an architectural play in consumer (but a tablet or netbook for the home) is where a number of our peers will lead."

Cius was in development for 18 months, from concept to product, Chambers said. He said its development was very quiet with information on it contained internally within Cisco.

Still, that didn't stem speculation that Cisco was up to something -- especially with the way Apple's iPad was being snapped up upon its release.

Cius is aimed at markets in technologically transitional stages, such as education and healthcare. Indeed, during the product's flashy launch here at Cisco's annual user conference, Cisco demonstrated how Cius could be used to facilitate a conference between teacher, pupil and parents to discuss the pupil's scholarly progress.

In healthcare, Cius could foster collaboration between healthcare providers, patient, insurance company and family to discuss and determine a course of treatment. And in even more serious situations, it could perhaps save lives, Chambers suggested.

"It would have changed things dramatically" had it been available to victims and recovery personnel of the 2008 earthquake in the Sichuan province of China, he said.

But first and foremost, Cius is a business tablet designed for collaborative business applications. Consumers will have to look elsewhere for a home tablet -- and for a smartphone, Chambers reiterated.

Asked during the roundtable if Cisco would produce a smartphone to go up against Apple's iPhone or Research in Motion's BlackBerry, Chambers delivered an emphatic no.

"But do we want to develop products that integrate data, voice and video? Yes," he added, just as emphatically.

Asked then if Cisco regretted allowing Apple to use the name "iPhone" -- Cisco sued Apple for trademark infringement over the name but the two companies suspended litigation and agreed to share it -- Chambers said he did not.

"It's all about the Internet," he said. "We focus on how to make the market bigger."

He then said Cisco also had a trademark on the name "NetScape" but agreed to let a competitor to Microsoft use it for its company and Web browser product name.

"We gave them their name," Chambers said of NetScape, a leading Web browser company in the 1990s.

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