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Cable/Video

Cisco Goes Consumer

5:50 PM -- After talking about consumer electronics and home networking for years, Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) is really taking the plunge this year, as shown by its Media Hub and wireless home audio announcements at the 2009 International CES today. (See Cisco Goes Content Crazy.)

In a message board discussion earlier today, I was noting that Cisco can be a winner in consumer markets even if it plays a background role, becoming the network architect of sorts rather than a huggable brand like Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL).

That's true, but Cisco's ambitions run higher than that. What I'd forgotten is that Cisco moved Ned Hooper, who was in charge of mergers and acquisitions, into the consumer role -- which, at the time, was taken as a sign of how deeply committed Cisco is to that market. (See Consuming Cisco, The New Cisco, and Cisco's Next Heir.)

Cisco is concentrating on the network side of things first, of course, aiming to let any consumer device view any content. (Media Hub being able to stream DRM-laden iPod content to other devices, for instance.) "But you will see us also move into devices on our own, both [devices] that we are building and the kind of devices that we will acquire," Chambers said during a CES press conference.

Cisco acquiring a device maker. That's going to be an interesting move, eventually. Where would you start, if you were them?

Separately, today is the real, official, coming-out for Cisco's Entertainment Operating System (EOS), an environment for building and maintaining social-media Websites. EOS pretty much matches the descriptions of a year ago. (See Cisco's Media Plunge.)

Among the extra tidbits presented by Cisco exec Dan Scheinman: EOS includes a way to deploy a library of content across multiple sites, and it's a hosted application, not likely to be added to customers' own routers any time soon. "Today it's architected as a hosted solution. We want to keep it as a hosted solution," he said.

— Craig Matsumoto, West Coast Editor, Light Reading

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