Cisco to Push into Home Electronics – Why?


I get and respect Cisco’s desire to dig deeper into the home, but I am not convinced that a piece of consumer electronics gear is the way to do it. According to the NYT, Cisco is looking to develop a “a digital stereo system that is meant to move music wirelessly around a house.”

I can’t help but wonder why Cisco is not simply focusing on enabling the connectivity and distribution piece on the network rather than going for the end-point. I’d rather have something neutral that provides access to content (and not just music btw) where I want it – whether that’s in my house or pushed out to my mobile device. The limited info on the upcoming Cisco product seems to limit the usefulness to a connected audio component. These typically sit in your stereo rack connected to your home network and stream content through as through it was in your audio player. Sounds a lot like Sonos, AppleTV and quite a few other boxes that have been sold with considerably less success.

There’s no magic bullet here. In order to get your entertainment connected and distributed you need to have a way to either view or here it in every room which means cables or wireless kit. We chose the wired route and centralized most of the equipment into a couple of racks beneath the basement stairs. Each room in our home in which we planned for AV has speakers installed in-wall we’re able to select any source from any room.

My original AppleTV recently had it’s brain expanded through Boxee and now can play both the (limited) protected content we have from iTunes as well as any other file we happen to have accessible. Cisco is going to have to win over Apple unfortunately in order to earn access to the iTunes ecosystem and I just don’t see that happening anytime soon either. So far, the standard fault of every media streamer is that it can’t play iTunes DRM … I don’t see how Cisco’s solution solves any of this. Another box to setup and futz around with as a source? No thanks.

I was given a demo of the Nokia Home Control Center solution at Nokia World and it will take a very different approach. Instead of trying to provide a streaming end point, Nokia is shooting for a more centralized role in your home and one that I frankly would have expected from Cisco.




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Filed in: Industry Buzz, Streaming Media Devices


  • AppleFan

    For those tracking DECE, it kind of makes sense now why Cisco joined, but where is Nokia? I guess they prefer to battle with Apple toe-to-toe. Ha, good luck!

  • Alex

    The full Cisco strategy is not being laid out here. Cisco is making a major architecture push to support its video initiatives. These being HD Telepresence, Cisco UC CUVA and now Webex desktop video. One of the major parts of this architecture is Medianet. What it basically is going to do is put “intelligence” into the network (aka processing at the routers and switches) that will allow for some pretty impressive things. Today if you have a HD broadcast in 1080i and you want to watch it on say your IPOD or even a regular SDTV. You would manually have to figure out what format the device accepts (resolution as well) and then transcode and deliver it to that device. With Medianet the network will detect what device is out their and then dynamically transcode to optimize the viewing experience. It will also apply security, qos, etc… Cisco could then become the center of the home for media distribution and also have direct links with the ISP for upload and download. So all these devices are really just endpoints they are talking about right now. The rule magic will come. Ned Hooper has been taking his sweet time doing something with Linksys and SA.