CISCO HAS PULLED a surprise rabbit out of its usually dull hat. Company executives have thrown down a gauntlet to Microsoft's Office and Google's Apps.
Cisco Veep Doug Dennerline told the press his firm is "thinking about" adding web-based document drafting and sharing to its WebEx offering.
WebEx already boasts instant messaging, online meeting capability and email services, but Cisco has bigger plans for its $3.2 billion 2007 acquisition.
Microsoft is said to have pulled some $16 billion from its Orifice last year, with the Vole holding between 80 and 95 per cent of the office apps market. Cisco turned over $39.5 billion in total last year, so even a slender slice of Office pie makes a lot of sense on the Cisco spreadsheet. But that's assuming the Internet's favourite plumber would be able to get that much.
Realistically, Cisco stands a snowflake's chance in hell of winning over even a few Microsoft customers. Furthermore, an augmented WebEx would have to compete with Google Apps which can call on Google's massive user-base and strength in cloud computing. Cisco is less "cloud" and more ♫Networks in the sky with routers♫.
The firm would have to convince stodgy business punters that its doc-sharing WebEx offerings were worth splashing a bit of cash on instead of Microsoft's expensive Office or Google's more basic Apps.
However, Cisco's CEO, John Chambers, seems optimistic, and isn't stopping there. In addition to beefing up WebEx, he says Cisco is also making strides into the ‘exciting' world of telepresence for homes in the next couple of years.
Yes, your mother will be beaming herself right onto the LCD screen in your living room for regular chats.
But, warned Chambers, all this stirring about in other companies' pots doesn't mean Cisco has lost sight of its bread and butter.
"On the one hand, make no mistake about it, we will stay focused on our core competencies - switching and routing [zzzzzz - Ed]. You will see a constant flood of product capabilities and directions coming in these areas," said Chambers, adding: "At the same time, we realise that the network has evolved." µ
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