Last Thursday evening, Cisco quietly announced the death of the business tablet, as it gave way to the unstoppable force that is BYOD. Guy Daniels reports.
(Editor's note: this story first appeared earlier today as a series of tweets, as the first of TelecomTV's two-day Twitter news experiment. The following is the full version of the story.)
RIP Cius. We don’t need business tablets anymore, in fact, we never did. When Cisco announced the Cius Android tablet back in 2010, it was met with a high degree of suspicion. It had been positioned as a business tablet, not a consumer device. The idea was, leave your iPad at home, take your Cius to work. Last week, Cisco quietly sounded the death knell for its short-lived foray into business tablets.
Writing on the company’s collaboration blog, Cisco’s OJ Winge explained that
“Cisco will no longer invest in the Cisco Cius tablet form factor, and no further enhancements will be made to the current Cius endpoint beyond what’s available today. However, as we evaluate the market further, we will continue to offer Cius in a limited fashion to customers with specific needs or use cases.”
Cisco blames the rise in BYOD culture for the demise of the Cius. Whilst there is no escaping the popularity of ‘bring your own device’ to work, for both employees and employers, another significant factor had to be the price. Cisco was pushing the Android tablet for a staggering $750 – more than the cost of an iPad. Why on earth would anyone buy into that deal? Fact was, they didn’t.
You can still pick up a Cius and docking station (yes, it needs a docking station – like all other failed tablet concepts) at various online sites. We found them in the UK for hyper-inflated prices between £664 and £820. Get one now on Play.com for £760 (yes, Pounds, not Dollars…), if money has no meaning to you.
Here’s how Cisco first announced the Cius – “a first-of-its-kind mobile collaboration business tablet” – back in June 2010:
“Cius offers IT professionals new options when it comes to equipping mobile workers with computing devices. Through virtual desktop integration, Cisco Cius offers flexible computing options with cloud-based services, providing dramatically lower capital costs and cost-per-user for desktop maintenance.”
The company added that:
“Businesses can also tap into the growing Android developer community that is building business-class productivity applications with appropriate IT controls.”
The telling phrase here is “appropriate IT controls”. This was a device designed to be IT department friendly.
It was also optimised for video conferencing (after all, Cisco has been bigging up video collaboration for years). Yes, it had a 720p front-mounted HD camera, 5MP rear camera, dual microphones, and even USB ports. There was even a business-focused app store, AppHQ, along with the option for businesses to host their own private app stores. But Cius was over-priced, badly thought out, and it wasn’t an iPad.
Even during its launch period, there were signs that Cisco’s logic was breaking down. There was some excellent foresight from Cisco’s Chet Namboodri back in December 2010. Writing on one of Cisco’s blogs, he was addressing a question he had received, asking “How do I keep iPads off of my factory floor?”
“This question was posed by the Manufacturing IT Director for a major Pharma producer, as part of an annual customer advisory board hosted jointly by Cisco and Rockwell Automation. One answer: Good luck! …And why would you want to?”
Great answer; shame his bosses weren’t paying attention.
It was only a few weeks ago that Cisco was shouting about the capabilities of Cius at the riveting ‘US Courts Conference’. Maybe this is one of the “specific use cases”… Instead, Cisco’s Winge says the company will concentrate ( or “double down”, in Cisco-speak) on multi-platform collaboration software, like Jabber and WebEx:
“We’re seeing tremendous interest in these software offerings. Customers see the value in how these offerings enable employees to work on their terms in the Post-PC era.”
Cisco also announced the results of its IBSG Horizons Study on virtualization and the BYOD market. The survey of 600 US IT business leaders showed that BYOD is now a reality in the enterprise, with 95% of respondents saying their companies permit employee-owned devices in the workplace.
Running down some of the report highlights:
* 76% categorized BYOD as somewhat or extremely positive for their companies, while seeing significant challenges for IT.
* The average number of connected devices per “knowledge worker” is expected to reach 3.3 by 2014, up from an average of 2.8 in 2012.
* 78% of white-collar workers use a mobile device for work purposes, and 65% of them require mobile connectivity to do their jobs.
* Mobility initiatives will consume 20% of IT budgets in 2014, compared to 17% in 2012.
* 69% of respondents said that unapproved applications (especially social networks, cloud-based email, and IM) are more prevalent today than two years ago.
And finally, a stat from Cisco itself: Cisco employees pay an average of $600 out-of-pocket for devices that will give them more control over their work experience. Nice saving for Cisco.
So, as more of us are willing to spend our own money to get the right tools for our jobs (shame on you, Mr Employer), the line between what constitutes a consumer and business device fades away. See you, Cius.
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