At $750, Cisco Cius Android tablet priced more than an iPad

Cius will ship worldwide on July 31 but its $750 price does not include the docking station

Cisco today announced the long-awaited suggested price on its upcoming Cius Android tablet and said it will be available worldwide on July 31. The tablet, sold through resellers, is expected to cost about $750 apiece, though Cisco has already hinted that resellers will be knocking the price down to $700 or less, when enterprises sign up for additional services as part of a Cius rollout.

However, the price does not include the "optional" docking station, which is the part that makes the Android tablet carry the possibility of replacing workers' telephone handsets and PCs. The docking station, which Cisco calls the HD media station includes USB port, 10/100/1000 wired connectivity, and a handset option. Cisco was mum on the cost of that. When Cisco announced this product about a year ago, most analysts expected the Cius with docking station to cost about $1,000.

Cisco Cius

Cius has released the specs of the Cius Android tablet before, and there were no surprises with yesterdays' pricing/availability news. To refresh your memory, it includes the following:

  • Wi-Fi (802.11a/b/g/n), 4G data, and Bluetooth help employees stay connected while mobile
  • HD video (720p) including interoperability with Cisco TelePresence systems
  • Virtual Experience Infrastructure (VXI) thin-client integration
  • Cisco AppHQ app store
  • Collaboration applications include Cisco Quad, Jabber IM, and Presence and WebEx
  • Cisco "Compatible Extensions" which Cisco says are optimized to work with a Cisco Wireless LAN infrastructure
  • 7-inch diagonal, high-resolution color touch screen
  • Detachable and serviceable battery for easy recharging
  • Highly secure remote connections with Cisco AnyConnect Secure Mobility Client
  • HD audio with wideband support (tablet, HD media station)
  • and of course, the optional HD media station/handset

If you want to see the Cius tablet in action. It had a starring product placement role on a May episode of NCIS L.A. Here's the link.

Cisco has made also made available a new promotion called "Triple V" (for Voice, Video and Virtualization) as a package that, should customers sign up for this, Cisco would knock off at least $50 of the price of each Cius,to below $700. Cisco resellers commonly play the old-fashioned discounting game, as well they should, making Cisco gear cheaper as more of it, or more additional services are sold.

But let's compare this to the iPad 2, which starts at $499. Even a Cisco discounted price of $700 is pricey.

Cisco is banking that enterprises will want so spend more on its Android tablet because Cisco has done the legwork to make the tablet more enterprise-friendly from the getgo. The company is making a big deal about its AppHQ app store designed for enterprises. This app store will offer enterprises controls over which apps users can install on their Cius devices. It also offers tools to let developers create apps for it, whether it is an internal developer building a custom app for a business or a commercial developer trying to reach a market of Cius users.

The built-in desktop virtualization option will also be attractive to enterprises, but worth the price? You tell me.

Because this is an Android device, IT managers can populate their Cius devices from about 200,000 applications from the Android Marketplace, too.

Cisco has trotted out a case study of its beta tester/early adopter, too. Nottingham University Hospitals is a Cisco shop for both its wired and wireless networks. It is using 11 Cius tablets

The new hospital systems includes a Cisco medical-grade network to provide both wired and wireless (Wi-Fi) network access; a real-time workforce management system from Nervecentre; and 11 Cisco Cius by its night time emergency department staff. According to the press release, the hospital has saved £700,000 thanks to the use of the Cius, this mostly calculated by increased productivity, where hospital staff are spending more of their time with patents then with the old system, which relied on pagers and landlines to talk to doctors.

So given what you know so far, does Cisco have a winner with the Cius for enterprises? It's definitely cool (I'd love to have one) but is it a practical PC/telephone replacement? Would you consider rolling it out to your users?

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Copyright © 2011 IDG Communications, Inc.

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