Cisco Partners: Timing Was What Killed Cius

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Cisco is hardly alone in the ranks of the tablet also-rans. HP famously killed its TouchPad tablet after only a few months of availability, and while Avaya has said it will continue to support its Avaya Desktop Video Device (ADVD), it's also touting iPad-ready UC clients. Solution providers have described the ADVD's sales as lukewarm to nonexistent.

Other non-tablet vendors with large stakes in the UC space are also making shifts. For example, Polycom recently made the first major branding change in its 22-year history, emphasizing its burgeoning software businesses while planning to divest hardware businesses such as its wireless phone unit.

Under these market shifts, Cisco has prioritized Jabber as one of its important UC and collaboration market plays.

At Cisco Partner Summit, Cisco confirmed Jabber for Everyone, an offer in which it will make presence and IM capabilities and Cisco Jabber clients available at no additional licensing cost to Cisco customers.

Cisco partners said that move is crucial to speeding up deployment of Jabber for customers, and it will help Cisco against the rising tide of Microsoft Lync.

"Jabber is the answer -- that's the product that will be offensive against Microsoft Lync, and that falls much closer into their wheelhouse. I think Jabber will be a success," said AOS' Alexander. "Microsoft is a real threat. Cisco recognizes it's a real threat. We have a lot of customers not just asking us about Lync, but saying, 'We're going to move in that direction.''"

"We're talking to clients doing Lync and asking them how they're going to incorporate a video strategy into that, and then we start to talk about Jabber on the iPad and the early field trial testing, and clients can see real benefits in capabilities Cisco is demonstrating now," Presidio's Reese said. "I'm not hearing about Microsoft making investments in the near-term to do complex intelligent video [integration] -- they're relying on Polycom to do that integration for them. Any time you have a new integration point, there's a finger to point and a place to break. Cisco can tell that story. Customers have bigger problems than what Lync can solve now."

Cisco is looking at the right ways to compete with Lync, ZK's Kerravala agreed.

"Cisco needs to walk the walk as a software company. To me, Jabber is the most feature-rich of the UC platforms for the post-UC world," he said. "Cisco spent a lot of time trying to figure out how to get this onto Android and iOS, and frankly, that's the right strategy for them. It's going to come down to Microsoft on the desktop versus Cisco in mobile. Cisco's opportunity is in things that aren't tied to the desktop."

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