According to Business Insider, Cisco Systems (NASDAQ:CSCO, news, filings) has in fact killed off the Umi, the consumer-targeted telepresence offering they unveiled a year and a quarter ago. At least, they aren’t selling any more of them. It was inevitable – $600 up front and $24.99/month to make video calls from your living room couch in 1080p, hope you shaved first.
Given Cisco’s ongoing reorganization and rejuvenation, I’m amazed the Umi wasn’t first on the list over the summer. But that doesn’t mean Cisco shouldn’t have tried. Their overall telepresence effort has to a large degree been about creating a new market. You can’t do that without stretching the boundaries a bit, and the Umi surely did that – giving the entire concept a wider distribution by giving something for consumers to consider and then not pay for.
I’ll bet that before 2012 is over we will see someone else try their hand at this sort of thing. Now, if it had an apple on it, a stylish design, and a new CEO looking to step out of his predecessor’s shadow… Nah, he’s not that crazy.
For now, everyone can go back and Skype their friends and family for free with their webcam like they have been doing all along. I wonder how many of these things Cisco actually sold. If you still want one for the eventual antique value, Ebay still has a few on the rolls.
At the corporate level, of course, telepresence continues to make inroads — although the full revolution is still a long ways off I think.
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