Cisco's Bid To Be A Player in Media

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Cisco's Bid To Be A Player in Media

Cisco is a huge player in networking equipment and software, both at the professional infrastructure level and the consumer infrastructure level. Now they're moving into consumer equipment for accessing and using media (particularly audio, but also photos and videos). Companies whose equipment is in the background often have a hard time moving into the foreground. It looks too easy, they underestimate the entrenched players, and they are usually terrible at user interfaces.

Cisco, however, is showing signs of not making these mistakes. First of all, they seem to understand that networked equipment (which in their view and the view of many others is really "all equipment for media") can be rather arcane to set up. So, they've created initiatives to allow certain Cisco technologies to be embedded in other manufacturer's equipment, specifically for easier setup.

Second, they have an initiative to help the retail channel provide support for customers. Anything complex will involve questions, and the channel has to evolve rapidly in this regard.

Third, Cisco is pushing a media operating system (EOS -- Entertainment Operating System) that helps media creators (music companies for example), to improve their business models via the network (specifically social networking). If you envision a networked media future, you'd better bring the content providers along.

Fourth, Cisco is creating a user interface for all of a consumers media across all devices. Making the network visible and usable is essential.

Whether Cisco can do all of this (and more) and do it well will remain an open question. But they seem to at least have a clue.

One to watch.

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