Is Cisco Next with a YouTube Killer?

Now that Microsoft has officially announced plans to host online video, can a similar announcement from Cisco be far behind? Though it’s not part of the video-development competition between Microsoft and Adobe, Cisco does compete with Redmond on a host of other fronts, and has a list of reasons to start a YouTube-like site that make you wonder why the networking giant hasn’t done so already.

And hey, it’s not like Cisco isn’t hip as to how to create a funny online video clip!

OK, maybe they should stick to building routers. So why CiscoTube? It would benefit Cisco in many ways, including:

— Increase overall video bandwidth, creating need for more Cisco routers

— Act as a marketing tool for open-standards TV and Internet gear from Cisco’s consumer division Linksys and business video gear from Cisco itself

— Give Cisco’s service provider partners a safe, secure (and maybe revenue-sharing) partner in the online world whose name isn’t Google

Who would prefer CiscoTube over YouTube? How about:

— Content providers, who could rely on Cisco to use nothing but the best deep-packet inspection technology to keep copyrighted content safe from harm

— Service providers, who might partner with Cisco for extra-cost services, like prioritized video streaming, to consumers or between businesses

— Consumers and corporations, who might want a place to put higher-quality and longer-form videos

It would also help explain some of Cisco’s following moves:

— Its purchase of — adding social networking smarts for a potential consumer video site?

— Its purchase of Arroyo last year — for video on demand and content delivery smarts?

— Its touting of video as the killer app at its December analysts shindig, where it also invited big content players like Disney and NBC to pontificate — buttering up potential partners?

Unlike Microsoft, Cisco usually makes sure it has something working before it makes an announcement, so it’s understandable if the networking giant isn’t quite yet ready to spill the beans. And remember, this is just a rumor — speculation — pure conjecture. We aren’t even going to bother calling Cisco to comment, since we can guess the boilerplate answer about not talking about editorial wild guesses. But anyone want to bet against it happening?