The Ghost of Cius: Cisco Tries Again with Apple

The big news this week out of Cisco is a surprise partnership with Apple that was formally announced on August 31st. With the partnership, Cisco networks will work on getting optimized for Apple devices, while new Cisco collaboration capabilities will target iOS devices and apps.

“Together, Cisco and Apple will help employees and businesses collaborate and innovate anytime, everywhere, with an amazing user experience every time,” Cisco CEO Chuck Robbins wrote in a blog post.

Robbins explained that Cisco and Apple will engage in joint development efforts with three initial goals:

  • Delivering unparalleled performance and end-to-end solutions on Cisco networks and iOS devices
  • Extending the Cisco Unified Communications experience to the iPhone
  • Transforming team collaboration with iOS experiences on Cisco Spark, Cisco TelePresence, and Cisco WebEx

There are a number of things that are noteworthy about this announcement. First, it’s important to note that Cisco’s gear has long supported IOS and Apple protocols (including bonjour) for years. How much further optimization can be achieved though joint engineering remains to be seen.

Bringing Cisco’s unified communication tools to iOS is also not entirely new either, as WebEx for example has long been available in the App Store. That said, Cisco Spark and Telepresence haven’t had the full IOS experience – yet.

Cisco’s existing iOS support all started back in the days when the company actually had its own mobile strategy with the Cisco Cius. Some backstory here: in June of 2010, Cisco announced the Cius as its entry in the tablet market, which was just taking off thanks to the Apple iPad. The Cius was an Android-powered device with its own app store for enterprise applications and had, of course, unified communications at the core.

The Cius never took off, and in May 2012, after competing unsuccessfully against Apple, Cisco gave up on the Cius and discontinued the product.

It’s surprising that it took three years after the Cius failure for Cisco to realize that it needs Apple. Perhaps Apple’s recent partnership with IBM also played a role in bringing Cisco to the table. The fact is that Apple iOS isn’t just a consumer play anymore, but a technology platform that no enterprise can ignore, not even Cisco.

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at Enterprise Networking Planet and Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.

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