25 Comments

Summary:

Cisco rolled out its consumer telepresence offering this morning, unveiled under the Umi brand. The offering, which can be used with existing HDTVs, is available for pre-order today — but the $599 price tag will probably be a little out of reach for Umi’s target market.

Cisco umi 2

Cisco rolled out its consumer telepresence offering this morning, unveiled under the Umi brand. The offering, which can be used with existing HDTVs, is available for pre-order today, but a price tag of $599 will probably be a little out of reach for Umi’s target market.

There are four pieces to the Cisco Umi solution: a video camera that sits on top of your HDTV, a set-top box that connects to the user’s broadband connection, a remote control for navigating the interface and making calls, and a cloud service that routes calls. The offering can deliver up to 1080p video, and connects via Wi-Fi or Ethernet.

The Umi solution is everything you might expect from a Cisco telepresence offering; the video is beautiful, of course, but the offering is pricey. The hardware costs $599, and the solution comes with an additional $24.99 monthly charge for unlimited calls.

Cisco is going into field trials with Verizon and plans to bring Umi to FiOS customers in early 2011. However, users can use Umi on any broadband network; to do 1080p video, it needs just a 3.5Mbps connection.

Since there will be a fairly limited number of consumers that have access to Umi at launch, Cisco has teamed up with Google to enable users to connect the Umi telepresence service with GTalk video chat users. Since GTalk is fairly pervasive at this point, the partnership will give early adopters at least a few friends to chat with.

The product is available for pre-order beginning today at umi.cisco.com, and beginning Oct. 18 from bestbuy.com. It will become generally available on Nov. 14 from Cisco’s Umi website, Best Buy and Magnolia Home Theater stores and the Best Buy website.

Related research from GigaOM Pro (subscription req’d):

  1. What would you say is umi’s target market? I’d say upper-income, tech-early adopters, at least the first year.

    I wouldn’t say it’s out of reach for that market – the real question is whether they can market educate enough for this demo to see a reason to buy it rather than lower-quality, best-effort video like that of Skype.

    Lastly – think of this price against the cost of plane tickets for geographically separated families. That’s part of what they’re competing against with a product like this.

    Share
  2. I think from a consumer standpoint this is a bit of a non starter, especially since it competes with FREE. I think logitech and others are going to introduce similar/lower priced offerings and that is going to make it difficult for Cisco to play in this market. My 2c

    Share
    1. The cost for the equipment will be much lower through service providers as part of combined equipment/service offering. Assuming Cisco will promote this heavily with TV advertising, along with partners like Verizon and BestBuy, I think it will have success. One inital question: will this be interoperable with other telepresence and video systems? Interop would help drive home office/teleworker apps, which can help consumers justify (and even expense) the cost.

      Share
  3. This is a SMB offering in disguise. My business has already decided to buy two of these, it looks fairly similar to what Cisco has been selling for 30k-100k up until now. The motorized camera and dedicated appliance are killer features … having a “conference room” skype login in company is awkward and a hassle.

    Share
  4. Seems a lot like the lifesize express for 1/10th the price. Really not sure why they’re targeting consumers with this – it could do well in a SMB environment.

    Share
  5. Any word on if you can record the stream? Or a way to intercept the stream to record?

    Share
  6. oh goody, now I can do video conferencing just like the gang on “24″ – of course, I have to be sure to use the brand name whenever I talk about it. Wouldn’t want it to become a commodity, now would we?

    Share
  7. Umi does not work with any current standards-based video conference/telepresence system (including Cisco/Tandberg/Polycom/Lifesize), and is limited to point-to-point only. Most home users will not have the bandwidth required to use it (3.5Mbps for 1080p, 1.5Mbps 720p, that’s for each direction up and down). Nice that they are offering a 30-day money-back guarantee.

    Share
  8. [...] Cisco announced its Umi consumer telepresence solution earlier today, which for $599 — and $24.99 a month — will provide consumers [...]

    Share
  9. [...] announced its Umi consumer telepresence solution earlier today, which for $599 — and $24.99 a month — will provide consumers [...]

    Share
  10. [...] homeThe Associated PressCisco Umi brings HD telepresence to the living roomCNETLight Reading -NewTeeVee -VentureBeatall 160 news [...]

    Share

Comments have been disabled for this post