Cisco Still Evaluating Umi TelePresence Channel Strategy

When Cisco killed the Flip video camera and repositioned the consumer Umi TelePresence product family earlier this week, I openly wondered if Umi would finally target the SMB TelePresence marketplace. So far, Cisco isn't offering any firm answers -- though a spokeswoman re-affirms Umi will ultimately be available through service providers. Here's the update.

For those who missed the bigger story, Cisco CEO John Chambers in early April 2011 conceded the company had made some missteps and needed to get back on track. Soon after, Cisco killed the Flip consumer video camera business and shifted the struggling Umi TelePresence effort from consumers to business.

Where in business will Umi fit? Based on the recurring revenue model and a $500-per-unit price point, Umi could be a fit for MSPs serving the small and midsize business segment. But a Cisco spokeswoman is a bit coy about Cisco's actual Umi strategy, stating:

"We are currently integrating Cisco umi into the Business TelePresence product line. Our strategy is consistent with existing Business TelePresence efforts in that we will operate through an enterprise and service provider go-to-market model. We'll be able to share further details once the integration is complete."
Fingers crossed, I hope Cisco is looking at small MSPs -- and not just big telecom service providers -- for the Umi opportunity. Either way, I think big service providers and small MSPs will need to work hard to show Umi's value proposition vs. free video conferencing and Webcam offerings like Skype video.

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