Cisco: a consumer brand?

Years ago no-one would have thought that the words "Cisco" and "Consumer" would go well in a sentence. Even after the purchase of Linksys Cisco has mainly kept their consumer network products branded with the old companies name with a Cisco logo placed somewhere on the device. Is it time for a change? The people at Cisco think so.

During the Cisco press conference at the Consumer Electronic show there was no Linksys branding to be found. The two consumer products that were announced, the Media hub and the Wireless Home Audio products, were both branded as "Linksys by Cisco" and Ned Hooper, SVP of Corporate Development and consumer group stated that down the road the new Cisco devices would be labeled as Cisco Linksys and I believe that down the road the Linksys name will be dropped all together.

The Linksys by Cisco Media Hub seems to be a mix between a HP Media Smart Server and a Buffalo NAS drive. It is designed to plug in and host all of your media (Pictures, Music, Movies, etc.) and make it easily accessible from any machine on the network. They also have multiple drives inside of the device so you can keep your data safe. The media hub also works with Macs. This device is available now from Amazon, Fry's Electronics and ShopLinksys.com starting at $299.00.

The Linksys by Cisco family of Wireless products allows you to control and share your music throughout the house without paying someone to tear up your walls and run speaker wire. It also allows you to plug in a device like the iPod to a single dock and stream that music to other devices on your network. All of this is done over your current Wi-Fi network no matter what devices your network is based on. These devices are available now from Amazon, Fry's Electronics, and Shop Linksys.com from $299.00 - $999.00.

Another thing that was discussed is Cisco's new EOS platform. EOS is web platform focused toward media companies. This allows the media companies to launch feature rich functional websites at a fraction of a cost compared to custom building a web based identity for their products. Basically they have a framework that easily allows their client to manage their websites, add content to their websites and delegate specific control to specific tasks on their sites. Cisco will also be hosting these sites on scalable hardware which allows the site to grow as the need arises. Some of the current websites that are using this service are www.lauraizibor.com and www.allseanpaul.com.

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The "Ciscoization" of Linksys is not new, or even news. What makes it disquieting to longtime Linksys fans is that Linksys was (for a long time) THE brand for consumer routers; however, the subsuming of Linksys into Cisco was predicted by the then-CEO of Linksys back when the friendly deal between Linksys and Cisco Systems was finalized (note that the Ciscoization of Scientific Atlanta was considerably faster, largely because Linksys is a much better-known brand among consumers). But it's so not news.