Cisco Finally Drops ūmi

3:30 PM -- When Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) started its restructuring last year, it wasn't hard to pick ūmi as likely cut. (See Cisco Starts Spring Cleaning.)

Like the Flip camera, ūmi was part of Cisco's push to put video networking in consumers' hands. But some of us contended from the start that this didn't have to be Cisco's job. It's not as if video's success was a question, especially with the iPhone having already become a big deal.

So, it's not surprising to hear the ūmi product is discontinued, as Cisco confirmed to Business Insider on Tuesday. The service will live on, so those who did spend $600 on a unit (or a drastically lower price, if they bought later) will still be able to pay $25 per month to keep the units alive.

Cisco did make the ūmi look nice. Here's part of a demo they did at the 2010 launch -- filmed on a Flip camera, by the way:

But ūmi's price tag, and the thought of paying for it as an ongoing service, seemed like too much from the outset.

The goal of getting high-end telepresence into consumer hands might not be worthwhile, anyway. At the 2010 ūmi launch, Cisco executive Marthin de Beer likened the experience to chocolate -- something you had to experience in order to get hooked. (See Cisco's TelePresence Enters New Chamber.)

But I have to wonder if expectations for video calling will shrink just as they have for telephone calls. We put up with bad reception, speakerphones and the use of smartphones in crowds, because it's more convenient to make calls in those situations. Likewise, video doesn't have to be studio-perfect if all you're doing is asking, "What's up?" or trash-talking a friend during the Super Bowl.

For most of us, as Business Insider points out, Skype is good enough.

What's interesting is that Cisco is not done with the consumer segment. The company still plans to appear at CES next week, and I'd have to guess they'll be talking abut Videoscape, which got introduced at the last CES. (See CES: Cisco Unveils Master Plan for Video.)

— Craig Matsumoto, West Coast Editor, Light Reading

DCITDave 12/5/2012 | 5:46:40 PM
re: Cisco Finally Drops ūmi

It is interesting that a lot of the wow factor of Videoscape last year was the fact that Cisco had found a way to tie in telepresence, consumer video cameras and service provider pay TV in a way that made sense (at the time). Now? I'm sure the story will change somewhat but I don't think it will ultimately matter. Cisco's still a hardware company and its strategy won't veer too far from blinking boxes. (Has it ever?)

WilliamofOccam 12/5/2012 | 5:46:40 PM
re: Cisco Finally Drops ūmi

"For most of us, as Business Insider points out, Skype is good enough"


I wonder if the 4G cellular companies pushing for IMS have figured this one out yet.

paolo.franzoi 12/5/2012 | 5:46:39 PM
re: Cisco Finally Drops ūmi


Nice Razor btw.

I have been saying the web has made IMS obsolete anyway.  By the time a service is offered through IMS it is completely commoditized via its web version.



paolo.franzoi 12/5/2012 | 5:46:33 PM
re: Cisco Finally Drops ūmi


So, if the branded solution is free then I think its fine...Skype is Free...Facetime is Free.  That is what I mean about IMS being too slow.  If mobile/static video were not available for free their might be a market.  But there is not now....




DCITDave 12/5/2012 | 5:46:33 PM
re: Cisco Finally Drops ūmi

Funny enough, a few of the demos I've seen recently from various equipment vendors all have this ideal world where a service provider offers a branded version of some communications suite, with a Skype like video chat, text and so on available to all devices on all OSes in that SP's network.

Is that too limited an idea these days? It seems like it should be, but then I'm the guy who lobbies for everyone in my family to buy an Apple gadget so we can use FaceTime.


DCITDave 12/5/2012 | 5:46:32 PM
re: Cisco Finally Drops ūmi

Yeah, that's the tragedy of it all -- IMS players could have developed this stuff years earlier and charged for it. Now it MIGHT be a customer retention tool but I don't think most carriers care that much to go through the pain of it all (and why should they? they reall should be more worried about connectivity than apps anyway.)

DCITDave 12/5/2012 | 5:46:31 PM
re: Cisco Finally Drops ūmi

It's a marketing construct used to describe anything video that Cisco produces. As we're seeing, products will come and go from Videoscape, but the general idea behind it all -- help service providers monetize video (sell more hardware) -- is a constant.


btierney 12/5/2012 | 5:46:31 PM
re: Cisco Finally Drops ūmi

Was Videoscape about products or about a long term vision to over hang the market due to lack of real product?

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