Cisco: Consumer business to be worth $10 billion in 5 years

Cisco CEO John Chambers reiterated his company's aggressive push into the consumer space, saying that the market would be worth $10 billion to Cisco in 5 years. Speaking at a press conference at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas Tuesday, Chambers said Cisco would roll out new products every two months into this space, and would make new acquisitions. He also reiterated that Cisco would be the overarching name for its consumer brand. New products announced at the show were badged Linksys by Cisco, for example.

Missing from the announcements was Cisco TelePresence. There had been reports that Cisco would unveil a $1,000 TelePresence system at the show.

As well as unveiling a wireless multiroom audio system and a digital media network-attached storage device (read about those products here), Cisco rolled out EOS, its Entertainment Operating System that was first discussed more than a year ago. Aimed at media and entertainment companies, EOS is offered as a software-as-a-service and enables organizations to create, manage and grow online communities around their content, explained Cisco. The platform integrates social networking, content management and site administration features into a single operating environment, Cisco says.

Cisco's first EOS customer is Warner Music Group, which created sites for artists Laura Izibor and Sean Paul

Cisco also said it would open up to the industry the Home Network Administration Protocol that was developed by Pure Networks, which Cisco purchased in July. According to Pure Networks, HNAP can be implemented in network devices to allow configuration and management by remote entities, such as Network Magic or any other software application that discovers and manages network devices.

The Media Hub sounds like it could be useful as it allows users to access and share their digital content - videos, photos and music - to any devices connected to the network. Users can also access such content via the hub from any remote device anywhere in the world. I'm no gadget fiend, but I would find it hard to believe if there were no other similar devices on the market.

As for the wireless multiroom audio system, it has been widely written that there are a number of similar systems on the market from vendors such as Sonos and Apple. Ned Hooper senior VP of Cisco's Consumer Group, said a differentiator is that its iPod dock enables users to play iTunes-protected content from any device on the multiroom network.

Cisco's consumer ambitions are certainly ambitious and are designed to bring in new revenue stream to a company that had made its living selling network plumbing. At the press conference, Cisco execs made several references that "the network is the platform for the consumer experience." The more consumers get connected, the more network plumbing Cisco will eventually sell. It's just unfortunate that with the current economic climate and job prospects, not many consumers are in a position to shell out for these gadgets.

Check out Network World's CES09 blog.

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