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Chambers: We Should Have Killed Cisco Cius Earlier

CEO says company should have pulled plug on failed tablet 9 months before it did

By , Network World
June 13, 2012 01:55 AM ET

Network World - SAN DIEGO -- Cisco should have shuttered Cius nine months before it did, CEO John Chambers told reporters at the CiscoLive! conference here this week.

Cisco ceased Cius development two weeks ago, less than a year after it shipped, after the business tablet fell victim to the cloud and BYOD trends affecting enterprises. Cius was to be an all-in-one collaboration endpoint for enterprises but it was quickly overtaken by Apple’s iPad in businesses, which workers typically brought in from home.

Sixty-three percent of the tablets used in enterprises are iPads, said OJ Winge, Cisco senior vice president and general manager, Collaboration Endpoints Technology Group, in an earlier panel session at CiscoLive!

MORE FROM CISCOLIVE! Cisco router software connects enterprises to the cloud

“Once you realize you’re not going to reach the volumes you need, you should just stop,” Chambers said when asked what lessons Cisco learned from the demise of the Cius. “We should have made our decision to exit the Cius market nine months ago,” he said, when Cisco started recognizing the momentum of the iPad.

The Cius experience, though, lives on. In killing Cius, Cisco said it will instead focus on developing collaboration software, like its Jabber client, for a variety of mobile platforms.

“That exact experience is now what we call the Jabber platform,” said Rob Lloyd, Cisco executive vice president of worldwide field operations. “We just opened up the software to run as a soft client experience across multiple devices because that’s where the market is going.”

On collaboration in general, Chambers mentioned twice in his keynote address earlier in the day that Cisco’s collaboration business needs to improve. The business was flat in Cisco’s fiscal third quarter due to market dynamics and lack of execution.

“We did not agree as crisply as we should have on strategy, what was our architecture to get there, and then what is our multiple phase roadmap to get there,” Chambers said. “You’ll see us go back to the basics and consolidate collaboration under one group and prioritize what we want to do or not. You’ll see us come down to a very simple definition of collaboration. It’s built around four pillars: mobile, social, virtual, visual. And then you’ll see us pull these pieces together in order of priority. It’s a harder sell and we’ve got to make it simpler to sell. We also need to be faster on feature acceleration. People expect that on key features and capabilities. It needs to be easy to work together. One-click to TelePresence, etc.”  

And it has to be multi-platform, Lloyd stressed.

“The operating system on the desktop is no longer one we should take for granted,” he says. “We need to make that experience available on any operating system, all operating systems.”

That’s something Microsoft should take a cue from, the Cisco executives suggested. While they await the European Union’s decision on Cisco’s appeal of the Microsoft/Skype merger, Cisco’s leaders will continue to hammer away at their collaboration rival.

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