CES: Cisco Calls A Blitz On The Digital Home


Consumers are finding it more challenging to keep track of the mountains of digital content they generate, but Cisco Systems has come out with a multipronged effort to remedy the situation. And believe it or not, there are ample opportunities for solution providers to benefit within the home and small-office spaces.

In a Wednesday press conference at CES in Las Vegas, Cisco rolled out a series of products and initiatives that aims to create fertile ground for consumers, service providers and content companies.

Cisco EOS, a new hosted software platform designed to let media companies monetize their digital assets, will foster the creation of online communities based around different types of subject matter, according to Dan Scheinman, senior vice president and general manager of the Cisco Media Solutions Group.

EOS will achieve this through an integration of social networking, content management and site administration features, and Warner Music Group has signed on to create EOS-inspired Web sites for the artists under its umbrella, Scheinman said.

At CES, the networking giant also unveiled the Cisco Consumer Channel Network, a new channel program for VARs that sell to consumers and small-office/home-office customers. In the program, Cisco will offer resellers a range of benefits and incentives for evangelizing the Linksys by Cisco line of Connected Home Products.

But it wouldn't be a true CES announcement without new products, and Cisco unfurled two spanking-new offerings under its Linksys by Cisco brand -- one for wireless audio, the other designed to help consumers get a better handle on their digital content.

The Linksys by Cisco Wireless Home Audio Solution uses Wireless-N technology to stream music from wireless devices connected to the network, and synchronize that music across different parts of the home. It's also capable of streaming music throughout the home from online music download Web sites including Rhapsody, AudioLounge and RadioTime.

The Linksys by Cisco Media Hub finds and organizes all digital content on devices within the home network and lets users access this content through a simplified interface, or through a Web browser.

Cisco also launched a licensing program for its Home Network Administration Protocol (HNAP), which will enable third-party vendors to make devices that play well on home networks and are easy to configure.