Cisco will face an uphill battle when it charges into the already saturated tablet PC market with the 31 July Australian launch of its Cius dual IP phone and tablet device, analyst firm Ovum has argued.
According to Ovum UK principal analyst, Richard Edwards, the device would likely struggle to meet the demands of business users.
"With workers in particular abandoning their feature phones in favour of the smartphone, and contact centre managers eyeing up the thin-client market, Cisco needs to come up with a convincing replacement device that is able to satisfy the needs of the business as well as the end user," Edwards said.
"Unlike the hugely popular Apple iPad, the seven-inch, Android-based Cius was designed with the company’s existing customer base in mind and is, in Ovum’s opinion, destined to replace the corporate desktop feature phone that Cisco sells today."
Edwards said that while Cisco has launched an enterprise application store called AppHQ, its Cius-only focus limited its value for IT managers and business owners.
However, the Cius presented a "reasonably good" replacement for an IP-based feature phone because of its support for Cisco's video conferencing system, TelePresence, and integration with its business social software, Cisco Quad.
"Perhaps the most alluring feature of the Cius is its ability to replace the traditional desktop PC through the use of virtualized desktop infrastructure (VDI)," Edwards said.
"To accomplish this transformation, the Cius must be used alongside desktop virtualization solutions from the likes of Citrix, VMware, or Wyse. The transformation of the Cius tablet into a PC replacement is completed by using the optional [and somewhat expensive] HD media station with its USB ports, wired Ethernet connectivity, and handset option.
This configuration will sound remarkably like the ICL One Per Desk released by British Telecom [BT] in the early 1980s, but this time the user can put it in their pocket."
So far, the Cius has been pitched overseas as a business, rather than all-purpose, tablet computer for inter- and intra-enterprise collaboration, combining data, phone and TelePresence video capabilities in a single desktop.
However, Edwards said that while the global market for hard IP phones was estimated to be 15 to 18 million units this year, and Cisco's device could account for one third of that number, it needed to convince enterprise customers that they still needed a desk phone.
He estimated on projected forecast figures that the vendor could ship 250,000 units worldwide within the next 12 months, around five per cent of the number of IP phones it currently sells.
Ovum is not the only analyst firm to voice concerns about the Cius. Gartner US vice president, Ken Dulaney, recently said that while it was useful as a telephony and collaboration device, the tablet by itself was "not going to be that interesting".
Cisco Australia was contacted for comment by Computerworld Australia but did not respond.
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