Cisco Launches App Dev Platform For Cius Tablet

Cisco first unveiled Cius, a Google Android-based tablet intended as a unified communications endpoint, last summer at Cisco Live. Since then, details on Cius' pricing, release and various features have slowly emerged and in late March Cisco made Cius available through Cisco Master and Advanced Unified Communications partners. In early May, AT&T confirmed it will offer Cius on its HSPA+ wireless network starting this fall, though it did not mention a price.

Cius is manufactured for Cisco by touch-screen device vendor OpenPeak, according to Federal Communications Commission documents filed in March. It weighs 1.5 pounds, includes a front-mounted 720p HD camera, a 7-inch VGA touch-target display, a 5-megapixel rear-facing camera and other features. It's supported by Cisco's UC Manager and supports Cisco collaboration products such as Quad, WebEx and Presence. It initially will run version 2.2 of Google Android, also known as Froyo.

The AppHQ aspect of Cius is described by Cisco as a "highly secure, cloud-based user storefront," where developers are able to create and test applications to use with the tablet. Applications developed in AppHQ are ensured of Cisco validation testing, according to the vendor.

Cisco is also offering access to a Cisco-hosted private application store within AppHQ, which business customers can customize by themselves with corporate logos for organizing applications specific to them. The platform's AppHQ Manager function lets IT managers assign security policy over who has access to the app marketplace.

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The business and consumer applications available in AppHQ will be selected by Cisco. But IT managers also can access the roughly 200,000 applications in Google's Android Marketplace.

"Basic access to Cisco AppHQ is included with every Cisco Cius device," according to Cisco, which did not immediately provide further details.

Cisco was scheduled to discuss AppHQ and other details on Cius availability at media events in New York and other locations Wednesday. It confirmed that Cius is scheduled for global availability on July 31, 2011 -- the last day of Cisco's fiscal year -- with an estimated street price of less than $750.

Cisco is also offering a promotion called "Triple V" that according to the company would bring the price of Cius to less than $700. That price is in line with a previous statement by Cisco to CRN and other outlets that $700 or less would be the target range for volume purchases of the tablet. Cisco last year had described the Cius as coming in at less than $1,000.

Following Cius' debut a year ago, Cisco VARs saw the potential for Cius as a breakthrough UC device for enterprises, but in recent months have been frustrated with what's perceived as a lack of details.

Barry O'Sulllivan, senior vice president, Communications and Collaboration Group at Cisco, said Cius will bolster Cisco's leadership in providing mobile UC endpoints.

"Our customers' positive response to Cius reflects how technology can change not only when and how we work, but also the way IT will deliver collaborative services to employees, and do so in a way that meets the needs of end users and developers and IT managers," O'Sullivan said in a statement.