Friday, July 1, 2011

Cisco Cius - Impressive Demo - But Will the Market Buy?

Been too busy to post about this til now, and hopefully, there's still an appetite to hear more about the launch of Cisco's Cius tablet on Wednesday. I say "hopefully", not just because I don't move in Internet time and am not big on instant analysis, but also because so much of what I've seen out there is just descriptive rehashing of what Cius does - not what it is or what it means. I can't believe how lazy people are, just endlessly re-tweeting this type of coverage - and surely I hope you don't view Twitter as the final word as an authoritative source. I'll save that one for another day.

I'll start off by saying this is the warm-up post. I'm just going to recap a few key takeaways, which I'll flesh out further in my next UCStrategies writeup - look for that early next week. I attended a hands-on demo of Cius on Wednesday at Cisco's Canadian headquarters here in Toronto, so I can actually say I have a first-hand account of the product as well as the benefit of the in-depth presentations onsite as well as via telepresence.

Before sharing some thoughts, you may know that the Cius story is a year in the making. Cius was announced at last year's C-Scape (and I'll be there this year in about 10 days), and I wrote up my impressions shortly after for the UCStrategies portal.

A lot has happened since the announcement last July, and in this case, I think it plays into Cisco's favor. The tablet market has exploded since then, and while the iPad is still the "it" device for consumers, we've since seen Flare and more recently, the PlayBook for the business market. I'm sure Cisco has learned from those launches, and following their hasty exit from the consumer video space with Flip, their go-to-market with Cius has become pretty focused.

Cisco's GTM for Cius isn't bullet proof, but I think it makes for a strong entry given how fast this market is growing. Nobody has a solid value proposition yet for the business market with tablets, which is still very much an early adopter space. The Cius demo only confirmed my belief that while this bright, shiny object has undeniable sex appeal, both vendors and end users don't really know what it or how to integrate it with everything else they're already using. The last thing we want is another gadget to carry around, and it's too early to tell if Cius will displace other end points, or simply add to the mix.

Regardless, I believe Cisco is in a truly unique position to make tablets a success in the business market, but a lot of things have to go right, and of course, businesses need to see a reason to buy. With so many employees using iPads for fun, it's going to be interesting to see how they drive adoption.

Most techhy types that I know routinely carry an iPhone and a BlackBerry - it's pretty clear that an iPhone just doesn't cut it for business. I could see the same thing happening here with tablets - where are people going to put all these gadgets? Restaurant tables are going to get very crowded now when people meet, and do their usual power moves to lay out all their devices so they don't miss a call, or a sports score, or a tweet, or whatever.

Can you picture that? Two guys meet for lunch, and out come the phones and the tablets. Two guys and eight gadgets on the table - as you know, men can't project power if they keep these things in their pockets. I don't know what women are going to do! This is getting silly, but that's exactly what's going to happen - let's move on.

I'll explore more about what I think Cisco has done right in my UCS post next week, as well as what all this might mean for the Unified Communications space. Until then, here are a couple of photos from the demo, and if you made it this far, I think you'll enjoy my post next week.

For those of you up here in sunny, warm Canada (is that an oxymoron?), happy Canada Day! And for my expats south of us, Happy 4th!

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