Cisco's acquisition of Pure Digital, maker of the Flip video camera, was notable because it signaled a stronger move into the consumer market too. But Cisco also noted that the Flip can also be a business tool.
The real game for Cisco is wiring your home video network just like it has for the enterprise. In fact, those networks may be the same thing. In the end, Cisco doesn't care what network you use as long as there's video flowing on it. If the video is pumping on networks Cisco can sell more routers, switches, intelligent software and data center systems.
This week Cisco CEO John Chambers put the Flip in context pretty well:
Make no mistake about it. We will have architecture in the home for video just like we are developing an end-to-end architecture for video in the enterprise. While you might think of the Flip as a consumer device it is just as useful in our business line. The number of applications enabled by this network web 2.0 device in the business world is exploding.
Again using myself as an example I carry the same two devices in my business life and my personal life. A PDA and my Flip. Another key take away is to understand the argument about consumer devices and business devices as well as the two architectures completely blurring is over.
Chambers notes that video will account for 90 percent of the load on networks in the future. Cisco plans to facilitate those loads by selling you more gear.
Knowing Cisco's master plan puts gadgets like the Flip in a different light. I've been testing the Flip Mino HD and the device is just swell. The uploading is easy, the video is crisp and it's small enough to not be a burden.
However, once you know the Cisco master plan you can't help but follow the bits. In my house, the Flip connects to a Linksys router through Verizon, which has a bevy of Cisco gear, out to the Internet to YouTube or Facebook, two companies that also likely have Cisco networking gear. The only thing missing in my equation was the Scientific Atlanta set-top box (also owned by Cisco). Verizon uses Motorola boxes.
If Cisco's consumer gear can entice consumers and businesses to use more video it creates a virtuous cycle for the company. But make no mistake: Cisco's real plan with items like the Flip is to make money selling the gear you won't see in your living room---the switches, routers and Unified Computing Systems behind the scenes.