Want an All-purpose Tablet? Avoid Cisco and Avaya

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With Cisco finally saying it will charge $750 for its Cius tablet, there's a lot of comparisons being made between it and the iPad, but those comparisons are misleading.

cius phone
If the goal is anything other than using the device in conjunction with Cisco communications platforms, there are better products.

The same goes for Avaya's Desktop Video Device that was built to support its Avaya Flare Experience conferencing platform that has to be tied into an Avaya Aura communications infrastructure. (Avaya DVD costs $2,000, which includes the Flare software.)

[More on Cius: At $750, Cisco tablet priced more than an iPad]

"They are intimately tied to their own set of applications," says Andrew Davis, an analyst with Wainhouse Research, about the Avaya and Cisco tablets.

Avaya's device has a slick user interface for setting up videoconferences and sharing data, he says, and the Cius similarly supports Cisco telepresence and Quad collaboration.

Unless a business is adopting tablets wholesale, these links to proprietary platforms are important to the success of these two devices. The only other way tablets can gain headway is by replacing some other device such as desktops or phones, Davis says.

He notes that when Avaya's Desktop Video Device was announced last year, the company said it would consider making it available for other hardware devices including iPads, something Cisco has not embraced. "That makes it different," he says. "Flare could be just another piece of software running on a tablet. If you weren't doing it for the communication, you'd opt for an iPad or a Samsung Galaxy [tablet]."

Cius and Desktop Video Device are unique among tablets, in that they are built to run specific business communication software. "I'm surprised Avaya went that way," he says.

Supporting and developing hardware is a big undertaking and not directly in keeping with the company's self depiction as a software vendor. The choice for Cisco is not as surprising in that Cius can be docked in a desktop phone to make it a video phone.

Other communications vendors such as Siemens and ShoreTel may benefit from Avaya and Cisco testing the tablet waters for them. If they take off, other vendors might create software that could run on more generic tablets to keep up, he says.

"Tablets could represent the convergence of mobility and voice, video and data collaboration," he says. "[The tablet] could resonate at the enterprise if it saves money, which is not so clear here. I would bet there's a high probability it will be a success than a failure."

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This story, "Want an All-purpose Tablet? Avoid Cisco and Avaya" was originally published by Network World.

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