Maybe we just have witnessed the unveiling of the future iPad contender. Cisco Systems has finally entered the tablet PC arena with a weapon of its own, which is powered by the Google Android operating system and is marketed primarily at business consumers. Cisco CEO John Chambers revealed the new Cisco Cius (Pronounced “See-us”) last June 29, 2010 at an annual customer conference in Las Vegas. It is an innovative mobile collaboration business tablet that provides virtual desktop integration with anywhere, anytime access to a wide array of Cisco collaboration and communication apps—including high-definition video—that deliver mobile computing and communication services. It promises its users to get connected to their work, increase their productivity, and reduce labor costs.
According to Cisco, the Cius business tablet offers access to essential application and technologies that will help business organizations to easily adapt to market changes while increasing work effectiveness and improving competitive advantage through speed and innovation. At the same time, it can deliver a rich-media experience to the workplace with high quality.
According to Tony Bates, Cisco System’s senior vice president and general manager, enterprise, commercial and small business:
“Cisco Cius epitomizes how the network is changing the way we live, work, learn and play. This platform can transform how healthcare professionals advance patient care; how retailers deliver service experiences to consumers, or how universities deliver world-class education to their students. Best of all, Cisco Cius offers IT functions a way to dramatically lower the cost-per-user of provisioning those new experiences.”
The new, portable device only weighs at about 1.15 pounds, making it quite smaller than the iPad. It integrates the productivity advantages of Cisco collaboration applications to a highly secure and convenient mobile platform. This is especially beneficial to business consumers who need real-time, video-based collaboration. The Cisco Cius features a front-mounted 720p HD camera, rear-facing 5-megapixel camera, and a 7-inch high resolution screen. It takes the video conferencing experience up a notch with its mobility and crisp resolution. The device uses Cisco’s Telepresence video conferencing system to provide easy access to real-time high def video conferences.
Moreover, it is a fully interoperable device that offers other features, including email, multi-party conferencing, browsing messaging, and the ability to produce, modify, and share content. It connects to the Internet through Wi-Fi or a 3G network. It also comes with an accelerometer that immediately orients business applications for viewing in portrait or landscape modes as the user rotates the device to their preferred viewing orientation and a detachable battery that provides around eight hours life with normal usage. To share data with a PC, the Cius has Bluetooth capabilities and Micro-USB slots.
The Cisco Cius is built on Google’s Android operating system to make it an open platform for collaboration and communication. Google Android is already used in a growing number of tablet PCs. Its applications are specifically designed to securely connect people on-the-go with the right people in real time from within the network. The device also allows users to access and share the content they immediately need from any area on the network.
Its operating system can be compatible with Cisco’s other business software applications, such as Cisco Quad, Cisco Show and Share, Cisco WebEx Connect, Cisco WebEx Meeting Center, and Cisco Presence. With Google Android integrated with the Cius, Cisco gives its business users the opportunity to utilize the growing Android developer community, which is developing new business-class applications.
With virtual desktop integration, the Cius tablet PC offers on-the-go business professionals flexible computing choices with its cloud-based services, thus lowering capital costs.
The Cisco Cius can be an iPad contender of sorts but not in a way that challenges the multi-media and entertainment features of Apple’s tablet. As stated before, Cius is specifically designed for business professionals and students alike. It is targeted to a niche market that needs a device to make working with other people a lot easier and more efficient.
The Market testing for Cisco Cius will begin in the third quarter of 2010, and the device is scheduled to go on sale in the first quarter of 2011. Cisco has not yet announced its price, but the company said the Cius will be sold for less than $1000.