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July 31, 2007
5:00 AM -- First, word got out about Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) supposedly killing off the Linksys brand name. (See Name Games.) Now, news outlets and blogs are falling over themselves to point out that the story was wrong.
Except the original story wasn't entirely wrong. John Chambers has said, on multiple recent occasions, that Cisco plans to phase out the Linksys name. (Cisco PR confirms this, unless I'm misinterpreting both them and Chambers, which I'll concede is possible.)
It's just not happening now. Cisco says it's going to continue using the Linksys brand name in the near term, as worded on the corporate blog.
And Linksys tells eWeek that a unified Cisco branding strategy -- Chambers's apparent dream -- doesn't spell the end of the Linksys name.
That part, I don't buy. Scrapping the Linksys brand sounds like the right thing to do, despite arguments to the contrary.
Cisco is at the beginning of a strong push to become a consumer brand. There are many steps to that process, none of which involve putting someone else's name on retail shelves. Linksys tells eWeek it's got Christmas products ready to go with the Linksys name on them. Fine, that's probably been the plan all year. But it would be a tactical error for Cisco to keep the name alive long-term.
Yes, Linksys fans will be incensed when doomsday comes. But just like "Intel Inside," Cisco's branding campaign won't be targeting the know-it-alls who spend too much time at Fry's. Cisco has a bigger picture in mind.
— Craig Matsumoto, West Coast Editor, Light Reading
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