Cisco: Back to Business

Sorry consumer video, good-bye Flip, Cisco is back to focusing on the business network.
Written by Steven Vaughan-Nichols, Senior Contributing Editor

When Cisco CEO John Chambers said that the company had lost its way and that he was going to re-target the company, he wasn't kidding. Today, April 12th, Cisco has shut down its popular Flip video camera business and is integrating its umi consumer videoconferencing and Eos media solutions into its business video offerings.

While some business people, such as Brian White, a Ticonderoga Securities analyst, liked this news "The Street never fell in love with Cisco's consumer strategy and the Flip product line was the epitome of this disdain," White wrote in a research note. Many other people have been telling me how much they'll miss the Flip video camera. After all, the Flip created a whole genre of hand-held video cameras.

I know a lot of people are really upset about Cisco bringing down the curtain on Flip. But, with the rise of video-camera equipped smartphones, others didn't think the Flip could have made it no matter what Cisco did with it.

Me? I think the Flip was history. I liked it, but my Droid 2 could do all the basic video recording I ever wanted to do and a while lot more besides. It's the same reason I look with a jaundiced eye at the future of dedicated e-readers like the Amazon Kindle and why I think the upcoming transformation of the Barnes & Noble's Nook Color from a pure e-reader to a low-price Android tablet is such a smart move. I just don't see a future for dedicated one purpose, hand-held mobile devices.

That said, it's also all beside the point. Chambers has, rightly I think, decided that Cisco needs to be focusing on being the best business network company that it can be, rather than playing in the Flip's pure consumer space. The one thing I can say about flipping off the Flip is I would have at least put it out on the market to see if there was a buyer out there for a pure, low-end consumer video company.

Cisco's other moves make perfect sense. Umi, one of the more badly named products of the still young century, is a fine home videoconferencing program, but so what? If people want low-end, one-to-one videoconferencing they're going to use Skype or ooVoo. Umi needed folded into Cisco's corporate-level TelePresence videoconferencing line in the worst way.

Eos, a media-serving platform, was always more of a business play than a consumer one. Eos may have been fun to have at South by SouthWest (SXSW), but its customers were always going to be businesses hosting videos, not the people who enjoyed the videos.

As for refocusing its home networking business for "greater profitability and connection to the company's core networking infrastructure," that's all very nice, but I'd like some more detail.

Better still, I'd like some more business Internet goodness in the Linksys lines. The new Linksys E-line of routers, for example, looks good, but Cisco tells me that the top of the line Linksys E4200 won't have IPv6 support until June and the rest of the router line won't have iPv6 support until the fall. In the meantime, higher-end SOHO equipment from Netgear, such as the N600 Wireless Dual-Band Gigabit Router already support IPv6.

So, my take away from all this is that these announced moves are all good-sorry Flip fans-but I'd still like to see more done with Linksys for the SOHO market. What's your take? Good move? Or, will you never forgive them for abandoning Flip?

Related Stories:

Cisco's Chambers: 'We have lost some of the credibility'

Cisco shutters Flip business, takes consumer mulligan

Death of the Flip: Will anyone miss it?

Cisco Linksys: The Makeover

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