Cisco has started to contact customers of its failed Umi telepresence system to notify them of the permanent end-of-service and offer refunds.
According to a message sent to Umi customers and viewed by CRN, Cisco will permanently end Umi service on Jan. 31, 2013.
"If you want to save videos you have stored on umiconnect.com, you must download them prior to January 31," Cisco writes. "If you have paid fees for service beyond January 31, 2013, you will automatically receive a refund of those fees to the credit card we have on file."
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According to a Cisco spokesperson reached by CRN, Cisco will offer full hardware refunds to customers as well as service refunds on pre-paid service contracts. Cisco is also offering to recycle product hardware.
"Cisco is committed to the satisfaction and trust of our customers, and we are focused on continuing to provide them with world-class products that change the way the world lives, works, plays and learns," the spokesperson said in an email to CRN.
According to the customer letter, the device refund offer expires on Feb. 28, 2013.
First introduced in October 2010, Cisco intended Umi telepresence to serve as a personal telepresence unit to provide consumers a top-of-the-line conferencing experience using business-grade telepresence in the home. The cost was a $600 investment in hardware and software followed by a $24.99-a-month subscription.
Cisco partners interviewed by CRN at the time said the price points would be too high and the service too limiting for customers used to services like Skype, which consumers can access for free. Sure enough, Umi had a slow start out of the gate and was blended into Cisco's business telepresence portfolio in April 2011. Eight months later, in December 2011, Cisco confirmed it was done selling new Umi telepresence hardware.
With its ongoing wind-down, Umi joins other highly-publicized Cisco flops like the Flip video camera and the Cius Android tablet. Cisco has shifted away from a number of low-margin consumer networking businesses during its global restructuring and is now rumored to be shopping its Linksys division, too.
Collaboration has been a weak spot for Cisco overall. Cisco recently changed the business' leadership as group revenues sank 8 percent in its fiscal first quarter.
PUBLISHED DEC. 18, 2012