New Versions of the Cisco Cius - Excitement or Shoulder Shrugs?

New Cisco Cius tablets are on the way in 2012, but how much excitement will they garner?

Cisco recently announced that it will release both smaller and larger versions of its Cius tablets in 2012. While this is potentially exciting news, it also may be met with quite a bit of indifference. This is Cisco's ongoing attempt to get into a highly competitive, highly loyal, consumer market space.

I can't help but be reminded of their foray into video recording with the Flip. Sure, the Flip experienced moderate success, but Cisco ended the program shortly thereafter. Is the Cius headed down a similar path?

Apple's iPad is dominating right now, and most users I know who have one aren't thinking about trading it out anytime soon (for anything other than a newer iPad). Is there anything compelling enough about the Cius to make tablet users consider it? I'm not so sure.

Cisco Cius compared to Apple iPad 2

Now the new Cius tablets haven't been released yet, so any comparison made now will be for the current version, but at least we get an idea of how the two compare. I don't mean this to judge which device is superior, just to get a feel for the attributes of each, and if Cisco really is on the right track to start grabbing customers away from Apple.

  • The iPad is 9.5 inches while the Cius is 7 inches. Of course, the new Cius versions this year will feature the choice to be smaller or larger, so this will provide a nice choice based on individual preference.
  • Both feature Wi-Fi (802.11a/b/g/n).
  • Both do hi-def 720p video recording, but the iPad actually has two cameras, front and rear, that record at 720p.
  • The iPad has access to thousands of wildly-popular apps via the Apple App Store, while the Cius has access to Cisco AppHQ, which has received somewhat mixed reviews.
  • The iPad uses FaceTime for face-to-face remote interaction, while the Cius employs Cisco's TelePresence. Both applications have their merits. For the casual consumer user, FaceTime is probably more than adequate, featuring the ability to switch between cameras mid-call and take calls on almost any Apple device (iPad, iPhone, iPod touch, and Mac). For a business professional though, the TelePresence functionality has its advantages reaching larger groups in business environments.

So what's the verdict on the Cisco Cius?

Looking at both side-by-side it's easy to see the potential of the Cius, especially with new size versions coming soon. But there's one other stickler in this discussion: price. The iPad 2 starts at $499 while the Cius is currently $750. So the question becomes, does getting access to Cisco TelePresence and collaboration applications like Cisco Quad, Jabber, and WebEx make that price worthwhile?

My feeling is that it does only to users who employ Cisco-centric network infrastructures. Which seems to be ok with Cisco. After all, Richard McLeod, senior director, collaboration sales in Cisco's Worldwide Partner Organization, was quoted as saying, "We don't think everyone's going to buy a Cius tomorrow." He adds that if Cisco can grab just 10% of the growing Android tablet market, it envisions selling a million devices over the next few years.

That's a reasonable assumption. I just wonder whether that small a market share will be enough to be worthwhile for Cisco to continue down this tablet path.

I believe the Cius is potentially a very exciting product for Cisco users seeking collaboration throughout their network. But will Cisco be able to garner enough consumer interest, especially with such a high price tag, to ensure its survival over many generations and many years? Only time will tell, but for now I'm remaining cautiously optimistic.


Copyright © 2012 IDG Communications, Inc.

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