Cisco's Umi Promise Not Wowing Channel Partners

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Analyst reaction to Umi Telepresence this week has been a mixed bag, as well. Steve Hilton, principal analyst at Analysys Mason, said the high price tag wouldn't necessarily deter tech-centric customers.

"Consumers who want the best and newest video communications have it right here at $600 retail price, plus $25 a month for service, plus the monthly fee for Verizon FiOS," Hilton said in an e-mail this week. "The enterprise-grade Cisco Telepresence solutions are absolutely stunning. I would think technophile consumers would be banging down the doors of Best Buy to get this solution."

Others see the price as a serious barrier to adoption, however, especially given the range of free or close-to-free, but lower-quality, video services that Umi Telepresence will compete with.

Shaw Wu, an analyst at Kaufman Bros., said in a research note that Umi is "much better" in quality than other services, but Cisco needs to consider lowering at least the monthly fee to entice cost-conscious consumers.

"We believe there is a market for premium videoconferencing, but it will likely be a high-end niche," Wu wrote.


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