ciscologoWell, the rumors are flying that Cisco’s statement that they’ll be debuting a major new consumer product in October means home telepresence at $500/unit.

The pundits point out that the Cisco unit responsible for the Flip video camera is the likely starting point of the product. My concern is three-fold:

a. an October announcement is likely to miss the critical consumer Thanksgiving – Christmas shopping period, or worse starve or stuff the consumer channel with product they can’t get enough of or will get too much of. Not a good sign for profit-conscious shareholders.

b. $500 is way too high a price. Our research (conducted privately) says the optimal price ought to be in the sub-$200 range. Frankly, I can get a touch-screen, multi-function iPad for $500, which is a much better value than a single purpose expensive ‘phone equivalent’ to hang out in my living room, collecting dust with my VHS player and CD cartridge player.

c. Cisco is out of its league. Trying to compete in consumer electronics with Sony, Panasonic and LG is fraught with disappointment, peril and a product-market discipline that is so foreign to Cisco’s culture that I’m sure that Cisco doesn’t have right. Flip doesn’t have it right either. They’ve been so focused on the camera experience that they got lucky with the initial Flip design, but are being swamped by the Japanese and Korean competitors.

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