Infrastructure // PC & Servers
04:14 AM

Cisco Comes To A Home Near You

Cisco is going to launch a new product at the Consumer Electronics Show in January intended to "take on" Apple, Sony, and other brands that sell technology products to regular folks.

Cisco is going to launch a new product at the Consumer Electronics Show in January intended to "take on" Apple, Sony, and other brands that sell technology products to regular folks.The revolutionary idea? A wireless music system, to be followed by a gizmo for easier Internet video chat.

Selling the idea of homes that are networked for digital media has been the buzz at CES for a few years now ... although not so much for its relevance and reality, but rather because manufacturers are so disappointed that consumers can't quite see the point.

"The Digital Home" is a no-brainer for technology gurus: Everyone should desire to share music, video, and data effortlessly between devices, not to mention integrating the Internet and/or remote controls into utility functions, like heating and electricity. Massive amounts of money have been spent on trade booth displays at CES to graphically and creatively portray just how marvelously obvious these benefits should be.

Only they're not. Technology brands are experiencing what toothpaste makers have known for years: Consumers rarely do what they're supposed to do.

Worse, just because something is technically possible doesn't automatically translate into it being necessary. True utility usually requires some quantum leap in functional benefits, whether in fighting cavities or digital performance. People didn't adopt laser discs, in spite of the benefits of clearer pictures, because they came with drawbacks of size, fragility, and cost. It took Apple's iPod and iTunes cross-device hegemony to empower folks to finally move music onto their computers, and then into mobile devices.

A smart idea isn't enough. Maybe Cisco can make a go of it, but nobody is clamoring for an enhanced wireless music system. And Microsoft has a multiyear jump on working (and failing) to prove otherwise.

Cisco's challenge isn't to "take on" other manufacturers; it's finding a way to make its brand truly relevant to consumers.

Jonathan Salem Baskin writes the Dim Bulb blog, and is the author of Branding Only Works On Cattle.

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Threaded  |  Newest First  |  Oldest First
Server Market Splitsville
Server Market Splitsville
Just because the server market's in the doldrums doesn't mean innovation has ceased. Far from it -- server technology is enjoying the biggest renaissance since the dawn of x86 systems. But the primary driver is now service providers, not enterprises.
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
White Papers
Current Issue
Top IT Trends to Watch in Financial Services
IT pros at banks, investment houses, insurance companies, and other financial services organizations are focused on a range of issues, from peer-to-peer lending to cybersecurity to performance, agility, and compliance. It all matters.
Twitter Feed
InformationWeek Radio
Archived InformationWeek Radio
Join us for a roundup of the top stories on for the week of September 25, 2016. We'll be talking with the editors and correspondents who brought you the top stories of the week to get the "story behind the story."
Sponsored Live Streaming Video
Everything You've Been Told About Mobility Is Wrong
Attend this video symposium with Sean Wisdom, Global Director of Mobility Solutions, and learn about how you can harness powerful new products to mobilize your business potential.