Sitting in the House of Blues on Monday night, I overheard the guy a few barstools down talking about Cisco and realized that I was sitting alongside a fellow Cisco Live attendee (not unsurprising considering the more than 15,000 people at the conference). Striking up a conversation, we quickly moved onto the topic of tablets.
Tablets are a hot button in the tech industry right now. Ever since the first iteration of the iPad launched, consumers and business users have been tablet crazy. I’m not one of them. Although I’ve been a tech and gadget geek all my life, I also tend to be a skeptic, and the benefits of using a tablet haven’t seemed to outweigh their drawbacks in the way I compute.
Since the iPad, there’s been quite a few tablets entering the market, but in speaking with my new friend, I received some perspective on where the market is going and where each of the major players fit in.
Naturally, the iPad is a consumer device through and through, even though it’s made its way into who knows how many businesses and has several business applications available for it (including an iOS version of WebEx). Most of the other tablets seem to keep to the consumer realm, as well.
Then came along the RIM PlayBook and the HP TouchPad, neither of which are completely consumer or completely business devices. Tablets in this middle category are sitting on the fence a bit and providing both consumer and business experiences and applications.
Enter the Cisco Cius. Cisco, which has been mostly exiting the consumer market (I’m still sad to see the Flip go), isn’t even pretending to go after the same market that Apple and the other consumer tablets are tackling. And why should they? Cisco is refocusing on doing what it does best — serving the small and medium business (SMB) and enterprise market.
During a recent demonstration at Cisco Canada’s offices, company representatives said the Cius is not the type of table to be purchased as a standalone device. In fact, Cisco’s messaging is that the Cius is more than a tablet; it’s a mobile enterprise-class collaboration device. Maybe that’s a lot of marketing speak to set the Cius apart from other tablets, but the fact is the Cius really is aimed at being an extension of Cisco’s unified communications platform rather than a standalone device. Buying it without having a Cisco unified communications platform in place would mean you wouldn’t be getting much of the key capabilities of the device.
As my new friend (who had a Cius in his shiny, new Cisco Live backpack) said, the Cisco Cius is the only tablet designed and marketed specifically for the enterprise market. In that respect, it’s unique in the tablet market.