Light Reading

Cisco's Farewell to Consumers

Craig Matsumoto
Valley Wonk
Craig Matsumoto

Cisco Systems Inc.'s love affair with the consumer market is finally over, with the sale of Linksys to Belkin Corp., announced Thursday. (See Cisco Unloads Linksys Unit.) Cisco does have set-top boxes left, but that's a service-provider product line. And the company has vehemently defended set-tops against rumors of a possible sale, so I wouldn't expect any changes there. (See Cisco: 'We Love Set-Top Boxes'.) Flip, umi, Linksys and the whole vision of Cisco becoming a driving force in the home network and the electronic spine of your future living-room -- that's all done now. "In our opinion, Cisco has finally concluded that selling to consumers is not the same as selling to enterprises," writes analyst Simon Leopold of Raymond James Financial Inc. in a note published Friday morning. That's certainly true. And yet, I was willing to believe in Cisco invading the living room. I didn't think they'd necessarily win -- what I mean is that I could buy into the logic that said Cisco needed to take a shot at it. That's partly because every big company seemed to be playing up its importance to the future home network. Chips, software, boxes -- they all saw a chance to take a dominant position in a huge future market. Meanwhile, Cisco was still considering itself a hot-growth company, and it needed a wide-open area for expansion. The living room was a market on the verge of transition -- and Cisco just loves to talk about how it nails industry transitions. But a lot of the things Cisco wanted to push into our lives -- high-definition video, or continual access to workplace collaboration (think Cius) -- got absorbed into a stronger force: smartphones and tablets. Flip became superfluous. So did Cius, which isn't a consumer device but fell prey to the same trend. Even before that, I struggled to understand the logic behind the Flip. And umi, the home telepresence system, was an overshot -- an overpriced product engineered for an unnecessarily high level of video quality. (I do believe we'll all learn to live with low-quality video for casual uses, just as we put up with the lousy audio on cellphones.) Like a lot of romantic notions, the home network lost its glow as the day-to-day reality crept in. Cisco being in consumer markets felt like more and more of a mistake. Linksys's arrival predated all that, of course, but without the other pieces, and without a grand home-invasion scheme behind it, Linksys feels irrelevant. Something like Meraki -- enterprise-minded, software-focused -- seems more appropriate. More like Cisco acting its age, I suppose. For more

— Craig Matsumoto, Managing Editor, Light Reading

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Jeff Baumgartner
Jeff Baumgartner,
User Rank: Light Beer
1/28/2013 | 10:55:48 AM
re: Cisco's Farewell to Consumers
Right, it does appear that this alarm panel, like-áCisco's-áset-top boxes, will be distributed via-áservice provider rather than at retail... at least at this juncture. JB
User Rank: Moderator
1/27/2013 | 5:30:22 PM
re: Cisco's Farewell to Consumers
Broadcom showed a UltraHD (4Kx2K resolution) TV set top box chip at 2013 CES.

Cisco didn't compete in that segment, and it looks like they never will compete in that segment in the near future.
User Rank: Light Beer
1/26/2013 | 11:27:28 PM
re: Cisco's Farewell to Consumers
Cisco did make one move into the consumer market recently. It's supplying the alarm panel for AT&T. But that's quite a competitive market so I doubt you'll see Cisco trying to sell that product beyond a few key customers like AT&T and maybe another telco or cable operator.
User Rank: Light Sabre
1/26/2013 | 6:48:00 AM
re: Cisco's Farewell to Consumers
I hope they go back to their old professional logo, this cartoon stuff is to consumerish.
Jeff Baumgartner
Jeff Baumgartner,
User Rank: Light Beer
1/25/2013 | 10:34:10 PM
re: Cisco's Farewell to Consumers
Found it interesting that Jesper Anderson, Cisco's-á-áSVP and GM of the service provider video technology group, found it necessary to tweet a link today ( to the Feb.2012-áCisco blog post by John Earnhardt-áthat Cisco remains committed to set-top boxes... guess Jesper-á figured the Linksys sale might cause some to wonder (again) if set-tops would remain part of the Cisco plan, so he might as well get out in front to quash such speculation.-á-áBut the old STB deployment model is certainly going away...-áthe industry is shifting to home gateways that feed small client boxes and IP-capable devices like tablets and PCs, so-áI do see Cisco concentrating on that gateway market from here on out. JB
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