Cisco and Apple

by Dave Michels

Apple and Cisco announced they are creating a “fast lane” for iOS business users with the optimization of Cisco networks for iOS devices and apps. The announcement took place at a Cisco sales event and featured both Tim Cook and John Chambers together on stage at the event. The goal is for iOS devices and Cisco networks to jointly deliver an optimized user experience. There is very little known about what specifically this vision entails, but we do know Cisco will create “experiences” tailored to iOS devices across mobile, cloud applications, and collaboration tools including Cisco Spark, Cisco Telepresence, and Cisco WebEx. The companies want to re-invent enterprise communications, collaboration, and meetings.ChambersCooke

Cisco Executive Chairman John Chambers said:

Ninety-five percent of companies in the Fortune 500 count on Cisco Collaboration and Cisco networks to help their teams be more productive. Through this engineering and go-to-market partnership, we’re offering our joint customers the ability to seamlessly extend that awesome Cisco environment to their favorite iOS devices. Together, we’re going to help teams achieve higher levels of productivity and effectiveness.

There isn’t much to add, but of course that won’t stop me. Let’s see:

  • Every keynote demonstration that I have seen of Cisco Spark (about four) has featured an iPhone.
  • Cisco already offers iOS clients for Spark, WebEx, and Telepresence. Cisco supports iOS features such as ultrasonic pairing.
  • Apple now has two big enterprise friends with IBM and Cisco.
  • The Apple/IBM deal appears to have less overlap than Cisco and Apple. Both Cisco and Apple offer voice, video, and messaging solutions. Apple’s apps tend to be consumer focused and Cisco is business focused, nonetheless there is overlap and Apple mitigates overlaps.
  • Apple considers both Google and Microsoft to be competitors. To some degree I am sure Cisco does too, but not nearly as much. In fact, Cisco probably has a vested interest in neutrality with Windows, Android, and Google Apps.
  • The $64 million dollar question is will Cisco actually favor iOS devices? And, if so how? In an interview with Re/code Rowan Trollope, SVP and GM of Cisco’s collaboration group, said that while Cisco will continue to support mobile devices like those running Google’s Android, its relationship with Apple is unique. But how?
  • Rowan Trollope said that the companies intend to offer closer integration between iPhones and office phones, and tighter enterprise control over mobile traffic. But how?
  • Cisco recently posted $4 billion in revenue from its collaboration business unit.
  • Cisco is a leader in UC, but realistically calls are shifting from corporate networks to mobile devices – some suggest 30 percent today. The standard UC play has been to create mobile UC apps, but it hasn’t been terribly effective. I wonder what Cisco’s got up its sleeve.
  • The deal was put together on the Cisco side by John Chambers and Padmasree Warrior – both are exiting.

Exactly what or how this will play out is anyone’s guess for now. My initial impression is it is better for Apple than Cisco because it gives Apple more enterprise credibility. I don’t see what Cisco will do differently than what it’s already doing, and I don’t see Cisco alienating non iOS vendors or users. Though it does make Cisco more hip.