Forget Apple. RIM should fear Cisco's Cius

Tablet targets Blackberry and beyond business user

Forget Apple and the iPad - it's Research in Motion that should be paying close attention to Cisco's new Cius tablet. The Cius is designed specifically for business collaboration, whereas the iPad straddles the consumer/workplace line and features little, if any, collaboration capabilities.

Rather, Cius raises the ante for RIM and its Blackberry handheld, which is designed specifically for the business user. Cisco has said repeatedly and emphatically that it has no intentions of producing a smartphone, but it's not hard to envision a Cius in the form factor of a Blackberry. Collaboration in your pocket...

Nor is it hard to envision a Blackberry in the footprint of a tablet. Indeed, investment firm Ticonderoga Securities believes RIM will produce its own tablet later this year. In a bulletin on the Cius launch, the firm says RIM, which is already pressured by Apple's iPhone in the smartphone market, will also feel the heat from Cius:

We view Cisco's entry into the business tablet market as most negative for Research In Motion, which we believe will introduce a tablet device in the coming months and now must compete with a new competitor in the enterprise market. Research In Motion is already feeling the heat from Apple in the smartphone market. Given Cisco's longstanding relationship in the enterprise and growing collaboration tool box, we believe the company has a leg up on the competition in pursuing the business tablet market.

Ticonderoga believes Cisco is well positioned to capitalize on workplace trends such as collaboration and mobility. Cisco has certainly been aggressive in collaboration, with sights set on a potential $34 billion market opportunity. A Cisco mobility element has been lacking up until now, however - the company does have WebEx applications for the iPhone and iPad, but a Cisco-branded mobile unit was MIA until Cius.

And with a price tag under $1,000, Ticonderoga also envisions a consumer version of Cius. Cisco CEO John Chambers pretty much dismissed that option - but we wouldn't write it off, especially with Cisco's claim that virtualization will ultimately reach the Connected Home.

Ticonderoga believes these trends and market possibilities will allow Cisco to become a $100 billion company over the next decade.

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