Cisco exec: "Demand for Cius is higher than we expected."

Even though the 3G version of the Cius has not yet arrived, Cisco claims a hit with its new Android tablet.

Cisco won't have a 3G-capable Cius until the fall, when it will be released for Verizon customers. Yet Cisco execs say that are already wowed by early orders of the WiFi-only tablet/IP phone combo.

"Demand for Cius is higher than we expected," said Barry O'Sullivan, senior VP of Cisco's Collaboration and Communication Group to a group of of journalists at Cisco Live. O'Sullivan wouldn't reveal details, except to say volume has been "lots."

I'm taking that with a grain of salt as Cisco wouldn't exactly be saying otherwise. However, O'Sullivan pointed out "We ship $7 billion worth of IP phones per year." Ergo, if a fraction of those users opt to "move up" to the Cius instead of a high-end IP phone, like the $746.25 Cisco CP-9971-W, a six-line SIP phone with a touch screen or even the $329 Cisco SPA525G2, a 5-line IP phone with a 3.2 color display, the Cius will be popular.

Note, however, that this isn't an apple-to-apples swap as the roughly $750 Cius by itself doesn't have a handset. You have to buy the optional HD media station, and then the Cius becomes a single-line phone and a videoconferencing tablet.

I personally believe that Cisco has priced itself too high for the enterprise market, and I've written about that before. A reader of my previous post on the topic says CDW is quoting "the tablet at $1063.99, the docking station at $689.99, and the carrying case at $86.99." The $750 is supposed to be the discounted price.

However, I also believe that the prices quoted to the press (even the "street price") are far higher than the prices available to an enterprise on the verge of signing a volume contract. Despite the fact that Cisco has positioned itself only as an enterprise device, IT managers still have the luxury of considering consumer tablets for their mobile workers, such at the iPad. A WiFi-only with tops out at $699 and can be had for as little as $499. So if orders for the Cius are high, can we make an educated guess as to what enterprises are really paying for them? I think so.

Until Cisco Live, it was hard to get your hands on a Cius. Cisco didn't even bring the tablets to CES. Early prototypes seemed "cheap" to some people who tried them. I played with a Cius at Cisco Live and liked it. I would use it if my company outfitted my office with one.

So, I'll go on record and say that I definitely think the concept could do well if Cisco gets the price right. Check back with me in a year to see if I'm right or wrong on this one.

Here's the video of one of the demos. A demonstrator shows how the device can become a universal communicator, replacing both desktop and phone.

Funny thing was, on the Cisco Live floor, many a company was still doing drawings to give away an iPad not a Cius. I saw only one Cius on the floor and it wasn't working (not that there weren't others but I didn't see any). This was in the Jabra booth which was supposed to be showing off how Jabra's Bluetooth headsets work with the Cius.

Ironic, don't you think?

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