Cisco Puts It Together
Both are businesses that have had Cisco watchers scratching their heads. Why pursue Eos, a managed service for media-company websites? Why acquire Pure Digital and go gangbusters pitching their Flip video cameras to the world? Both seem like distractions from the switch/router mission. (See Cisco's Eos Reaches for Telcos, Cisco's Latest Buy: Flippin' Sweet and Is Cisco Spread Too Thinly?)
You could still argue that they are. But Cisco found uses for both in Wednesday's demos. Videoscape can quickly upload a homemade Flip video to a friend's TV screen, something that probably wouldn't be so easy if Cisco didn't own the camera's design. And when watching Web content on a high-definition TV, Eos can generate user-targeted ads to surround the margins (since Web content comes in less-than-HD sizes), drawing from information it's gathered about you on media-related websites.
Whether either of those things is useful or even desirable is up for debate. I find myself getting squeamish about businesses finding more ways to throw ads at me.
The point is that Videoscape unites a lot of the vaguely "video" pieces that Cisco has amassed. That's partly why we used the phrase "master plan" in Wednesday's headline. I do wonder, though, just how far back this master plan went. I can believe Cisco bought Pure Digital with something like this in mind. Eos is a little more fuzzy; that's always felt like a model of "let's see where this goes," although advertising was probably the most likely endgame anyway. Its potential for TV was starting to become evident last year. (See Cisco's Eos Reaches for Telcos.)
It does all tie back to switches and routers eventually. CEO John Chambers couldn't help but throw in his usual gloat about how pundits once questioned the need for a router as big as the CRS-1. (Note that there's still no known customer using the maxed-out 72-chassis model.)
But Videoscape also, finally, draws a less sketchy picture of Cisco's video aspirations. Cisco wants to become the infrastructure for what our kids will call television, including capabilities for social media and TV everywhere. It's a big bet, and it will be interesting to see if service providers beyond Telstra Corp. Ltd. (ASX: TLS; NZK: TLS) are interested in handing over that responsibility completely to Cisco.
— Craig Matsumoto, West Coast Editor, Light Reading