Cisco to debut consumer gear

Mon Sep 27, 2010 4:45pm EDT
 

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Cisco Systems Inc is set to unveil a new consumer product in October, the company said, amid expectations for a cheaper, consumer-friendly version of its popular TelePresence videoconference systems.

A spokesman on Monday declined to give details on the October 6 announcement except to say that it would be a major, new consumer product.

Robert Lloyd, a senior executive at Cisco, told Reuters in May that the company expects to begin selling a consumer version of its TelePresence systems, which can cost around $300,000 per unit and are used by business clients, late this year. He said a consumer version would likely cost about $500 each.

The world's biggest maker of routers and switches has been expanding into video and consumer products, in an effort to keep its revenue growing by double digits even if its traditional business slows.

It recently bought Norway's Tandberg, becoming the top video conferencing equipment provider for business customers.

The corporate TelePresence systems feature high-quality video and sound, with limited delays, making users feel like they're almost meeting in person. Despite initial costs, the devices are helping companies cut travel expenses and Cisco has said it is one of its fastest-growing products.

Analysts have said the lack of fast Internet service in many parts of the United States, and the expected cost, could limit the mass appeal of consumer TelePresence, particularly with the availability of Skype and other free or low-cost video chat services.

But a high-quality videoconferencing system could open up new opportunities like distance-learning and remote medical care.

(Reporting by Ritsuko Ando. Editing by Robert MacMillan)