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Cisco's Umi Telepresence promises to be a transformative experience in consumer video, and Cisco is betting that the high-end pricing -- about a $600 investment in the hardware and software, followed by a $24.99-a-month subscription -- won't deter customers from buying a top-of-the-line telepresence experience.
But solution providers and Cisco observers see plenty of potential pitfalls for Umi, including not only the price point but also interoperability, broadband coverage and potential service contract headaches. Many also don't see how the currently structured, currently priced offering benefits the channel in the short or long term.
"It's kind of head-scratcher, to tell you the truth," said a senior executive at a longtime Cisco partner, who requested anonymity. "Cisco has a good thing going with Telepresence in the enterprise and it has that lovely Tandberg portfolio. But this is a consumer play and if you have Skype and a Webcam or anything else that's good enough for you that doesn't cost an arm and a leg like this, you're kind of giving it the 'that's nice, no thanks', I'd think."
Cisco sought to clarify how partners should view Umi Telepresence. In a Wednesday post to the Cisco Channels blog, Cisco pointed to the expansion of video and telepresence technologies and further growth of the telepresence market as a rising tide that will carry all video opportunities, from consumer to enterprise.
"It is part of our strategy to share technology and innovation across market segments," read the post, authored by Senior Director, Collaboration, Worldwide Partner Organization Richard McLeod. "Cisco TelePresence business solutions and Cisco Umi Telepresence share the same foundation but their features and benefits are designed for their respective audiences."