I work for Cisco Systems, who makes the Cisco Cius – which will start shipping here in a few days. I own a WiFi Cius and have been using it for the past few months, watching the software and hardware evolve into what users will see in a few weeks time. I have also been internalizing what the Cius actually “is” and in what ways I find that it is useful, or not.
As it turns out I am typing up this bLog on an iPad with a bluetooth keyboard. This baby is an iPad2 with 3g and our Anyconnect client installed so that I essentially have access to the network and all my services 100% of the time (planes without WiFi excluded)
So why is it I am quite comfortable telling you that I am very happily using a “Competitor’s product”?
First, go grab your nearest Cisco guy and take a look at the badge he totes around. On the back you will see a phrase that has been on my badge since I started in 1999: “No technology religion”
We are encouraged to play with and use the technology that is out there. How can you compete or have a legitimate discussion about a competing product or system if you have never used it. I mean *really* used it?
Well, as it turns out I don’t see Cisco and Apple, or any other current tablet, really as competition for Cius. Microsoft will be releasing Windows 8 and a Tablet/Slate OS in 2012, but its way too early to speculate on how well or not that will do.
So just why do I say I am quite happy with iPad and Cius instead of iPad vs Cius?
After over a decade of experience toting PalmPilots, iPaqs, Apple Newtons, Sony MiniPcs etc around, and after producing software for Palm, WindowsCE, iOS and now dabbling in Android I have a very good grasp of what is happening both as a consumer and developer of these platforms.
The key is the fact that both are a platform, and that each platform has been designed completely differently, because they were developed for a different audience.
Its worth noting that I don’t consider the current explosion a race to the next OS or device. The wars being waged now are truly wars of platforms. A platform includes the goodies to enable devices, deliver applications and services, ensure security etc… oh, and charge your credit card.
I think one reason that Microsoft has not done well of late has less to do with Windows and more to do with the fact that as-is Windows is an OS, not a platform. Windows Azure is Microsoft’s platform, but it really hasn’t seen the light of day in a way that resonates well yet.
So, with this said, lets talk about the platform that is host to iPad and the platform that hosts Cius… and you will see why I don’t believe them to be at major odds.
Ill do this with some examples, but won’t go into too much detail so as to leak any Cisco secrets, or violate my Developer Agreement with Apple.
As a developer on iOS I have access to various API calls. I can open dialogs, place text boxes and those sorts of mundane things. What Apple was pushing very early on was not that apps could be written, so much as it was that the phone was a very personal device and the “Magic” of iPhone was that you as a developer could access Contacts, Pictures, Music and videos.
Apple specifically encouraged us to “Surprise and delight” users by doing simple things like allowing you to choose a favorite photo from your photo library – as an avatar, a backdrop – whatever.
Similarly Apple has built out a pretty formidable base set of APIs that allow developers to do certain things… and all these APIs are very much Consumer APIs backed by consumer services sitting elsewhere in the platform. (iTunes, Email, MobileMe etc) If you take a look at the frameworks that are there, none of them particularly smack of business. You have access to contacts, pictures, videos, dictionaries, email and may more things pervasively in the system.
But… instead of building for example, presence, into the latest iOS, Apple spent a huge amount of resources developing Garage band and iMovie – two pretty darn Consumer apps. They’re fantastic. They’re consumer.
Now, for enterprises, I have a different sent of wants. I need presence everywhere. I need true IM everywhere. I need to be able to share documents. I need to be able to, as an IT department, control devices, software, support and other functions. I need to be able to report on usage. I need to be able to encrypt, do “better than consumer” video and voice and a bunch of “Platform” things that I cant divulge here. Think: Things similar to MobileMe, iTunes and other services that Enterprises will want.
Thats where Cius comes in. Presence, IM, Web Sharing, HiDef Video is built into the very fabric of the system. See a user? Theres a presence bubble next to them. Click the bubble, and you can take multiple actions – email, IM, Voice, Video, WebEx…. everywhere in the system, wherever I see a name.
In iPad I get consumer in the fabric of the device. With Cius you get Business. From the APIs tot he types of accessories, its just a different animal.
iPad2 has an HDMI cable dongle. Cius has a media dock that has Mouse (USB), Monitor (HDMI), Keyboard (USB), Inline Power and other features that together with VDI can absolutely replace a hard PC. The iPad is just not built for that, and Steve could care less – he’s killing it in Consumer.
Cius has Business in it’s DNA whereas iPad (and most other tablets) have consumer. As it turns out we’re all a little bit of both, but we’re not one OR the other.
Which one will you buy? Well that depends if you were a blackberry or a iPhone guy a few years back.
“No technology religion” means Cisco is on both, and while we are you will see us using and demoing our UC solutions on all the top platforms.