Cisco Partners: Timing Was What Killed Cius

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The Cius was unveiled in June 2010 as Cisco Live: a dual-camera, feature-loaded Android tablet that Cisco said would support 802.11n a/b/g/n Wi-Fi, 3G, and in the future, 4G. At the time, the feedback from Cisco channel partners was roundly positive, centered on the promise of a custom-fit, purpose-built UC endpoint for Cisco's market-dominating unified communications products and services.

But, there were problems almost immediately with getting Cius to market, starting with the fact that Cisco remained cagey on pricing, didn't indicate exactly when Ciuses would become available for partners to sell and didn't articulate an effective value proposition as to why Cisco would be a necessary enterprise alternative to the iPad.

"The things Cisco was looking to do at that time you couldn't yet do on an iPad, including the cameras and the high-def display and all that," said Zeus Kerravala, principal analyst at ZK Research. "And back then, the jury was out on BYOD -- a lot of CIOs just didn't want to do it. Now, 'don't want to' doesn't matter. They have to. So that's a big contributing factor."

It wasn't until the fall of 2010 that Cisco finally committed to a release date -- March 2011 was when Cisco partners with Master and Advanced UC designations finally got to start selling it -- and began to confirm carrier partners, including Verizon and AT&T. Though Cisco steadfastly maintained that the Cius wasn't delayed, the tablet did not hit general availability in the channel until July 31, 2011, more than 13 months after it was first announced. Pricing eventually landed at about $650-$700 per Cius unit depending on volume discounts, and that didn't include the Cius' $400 docking station.

Still, there was no shortage of Cisco fanfare. As No Jitter's Eric Krapf and others mentioned, Barry O'Sullivan, senior vice president and general manager of Cisco's Collaboration Technology Group, told an Enterprise Connect audience in March 2011 that the Cius would be Cisco's largest-selling endpoint in a year's time.

At a media event in New York in June 2011, Cisco sought to portray the Cius as being truly enterprise-centric thanks to the security features it had on board and how it was pre-validated to work seamlessly with Cisco infrastructure and Cisco partner products. There was also an emerging app dev and ISV story around App HQ, an application storefront hosted by Cisco in the cloud, that would help enterprises choose and distribute the business apps most important to their businesses.


NEXT: Cisco Cius Decision A Smart Move, Say VARs

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