Cisco expects RIM's new BlackBerry PlayBook to do well among businesses moving toward tablets, and help to augment customer demand for Cisco's WebEx service and Unified Communications Manager platforms.
"BlackBerry is going to do very well in this segment," says Steve Slattery, vice president and general manager of unified communications at Cisco. "RIM will have the same capabilities with WebEx and [Unified] Communications Manager," he says, but "not as rich video integration."
Because Cisco uses some proprietary protocols, it can achieve greater richness of video with its Cius tablet that standards-based technology can't. "Our device will be integrated with Communications Manager," he says.
He says he expects PlayBook's capabilities on Cisco networks to be similar to the performance BlackBerry handhelds have today.
A flood of tablet announcements including Apple's iPad, Cisco's Cius, Avaya's Flare, HP's printer-attached tablet, and even Samsung's Galaxy Tab, demonstrate that tablets are the wave of the future, Slattery says (Even Amazon is now rumored to be reading an Android tablet.). PlayBook adds momentum. "It provides more evidence that this is a solid emerging segment of the marketplace," he says.
Cisco was actually in talks with RIM to co-develop a tablet, but the project would have taken too long, so Cisco went it alone on the Cius, he says. As it turns out, both devices are scheduled to be available early next year.
He noted that Cisco and RIM both came up with hi-def 7-inch screens, a size he says that research showed has the most utility for business users. Avaya Flare, with its 11.6-inch screen, is too large for carrying around conveniently, he says.
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