Days numbered for desktop feature phone

Richard Edwards/Ovum
13 Jul 2011

Unlike the hugely popular Apple iPad, the seven-inch, Android-based Cius was designed with the company’s existing customer base in mind and is, in Ovum’s opinion, destined to replace the corporate desktop feature phone that Cisco sells today. Cisco has also launched an “enterprise” app store, AppHQ. This new service addresses many of the concerns of business and IT managers, but its Cius-only focus limits its utility and value.

One per desk

The market for hard IP phones is estimated to be 15–18 million units this year, and Cisco’s device will probably account for approximately one-third of this number. However, with knowledge workers in particular abandoning their feature phones in favor of the smartphone and contact center managers eyeing up the thin-client market, Cisco needs to come up with a convincing replacement device that is able to satisfy the needs of the business as well as the end user.

The Cius presents a reasonably good replacement for an IP-based feature phone. Key features of the device include support for the company’s high-end video conferencing system and tight integration with its business social software, Cisco Quad. However, perhaps the most alluring feature of the Cius is its ability to replace the traditional desktop PC through the use of virtualized desktop infrastructure (VDI).

To accomplish this transformation, the Cius must be used alongside desktop virtualization solutions from the likes of Citrix, VMware, or Wyse. The transformation of the Cius tablet into a PC replacement is completed by using the optional (and somewhat expensive) HD media station with its USB ports, wired Ethernet connectivity, and handset option. To some, this configuration will sound remarkably like the ICL One Per Desk (rebadged the “Merlin Tonto” by BT) of the early 1980s, but this time the user can put it in his or pocket.

Ovum has yet to be convinced that the Cisco Cius is going to be a winner in the enterprise tablet market, but if the following points are all true, further investigation is undoubtedly warranted:

Cisco is strategic vendor.

VDI and convergence are seen as business enablers (mobility, agility, flexibility).

The Android platform is the organization’s mobile OS of choice.

The price is right.

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