Cisco Cius: Unimaginative, but Slightly Intriguing

Cisco Systems Logo
Image via Wikipedia

Perhaps only a company of Cisco’s still considerable market heft can foist its recently revealed Cius (pronounced “see us”) tablet on the citizens of cubeland. Many of the tech bloggers are underwhelmed and ask the question, “Why?”.

This tech blogger has the same query. Once upon a time the gadgets in the office were not obtainable on the street; now consumer gadgetry is far better than what’s available or officially allowed in walled off corporate castles.

For the record, the Cius is a 7” tablet that supports a multi-touch screen, WiFi/BlueTooth, HD video (720p), HD audio, 8-hour battery, and front and rear (for taking pictures of your coworkers?) facing cameras. The company expects to ship the tablet in 1Q2011.

Price? Under $1000. (long pause) Now for the intriguing part: Cius will run a modified version of  the Android OS.

You can see the Cius being lightly demoed at the Cisco Live 2010 conference by Jim Grubb with John Chambers looking on. Inexplicably, the demo centered on its use in a classroom environment. Not sure why they think school districts will spring around $1k for teachers and their students when most laptops and netbooks that the kids are lugging around (in more affluent suburbs) or the computers already in the schools perform better.

Cius with phone docking station

To make a teacher work out lesson plans and take attendance on this teeny thing is just plain cruel. And will students actually want to video conference their social studies teachers?

Pardon my grade-school level Spanish, but no mas!

The smart move, of course, was to make Cius part of the Android ecosystem and let the growing community of developers fill in the app holes. I’m sure this openness strategy has not gone unnoticed by Cisco rivals. It will therefore be interesting to see how Avaya responds with its planned tablet, which was indirectly referred to by Senior Vice President Dr. Alan Baratz— he called theirs a chameleon device— back at Voicecon San Francisco 2009.

While I think education may be a challenging vertical for the Cius to gain a foothold, the medical and hospital environments look more promising. With over $19 billion set aside in federal stimulus money for health IT, there’s now both an opportunity and the money to pay for upgrading medial record keeping.

In theory, doctors and nurses may find this small device and the thin client architecture it supports appealing: medical records can be securely examined and updated, and staff can collaborate within the Cisco framework (Telepresence, WebEx).

The Cius is not an iPad killer in the enterprise. By the time the Cius makes it to market, the iPad will have sprinted further ahead with a new release, and who knows, it may boast haptics feedback, making this just plain irresistible.

I don’t see tech savvy employees or for that matter, the most tech-resistant managers, embracing this Cisclet thing over the iPad.

However, for the traditionally technologically resistant medical industry, the Cisco Cius may find a niche, and for Cisco it is a well positioned funnel that taps into the rising health IT revenue stream.

Enhanced by Zemanta