Cisco Systems announced its Android tablet, the Cius, in June last year, but without any official pronouncements regarding its price or a specific release date. Yesterday, however, the company said it will start selling the Cius exclusively to corporate customers starting on July 31. The tablet will cost US$750.
When the company unveiled the Cius last year, it was very clear about its target market: businesses and enterprises. Cisco revealed more details last Wednesday about how the Cius exactly works as an enterprise-grade tablet, and one of the integral components is Cisco’s AppHQ, which will provide business applications designed for the Cius.
AppHQ is a storefront similar to the Android Market. The apps on AppHQ go through strict gatekeeping and quality control from Cisco. This will expectedly make the AppHQ an easy way to distribute apps targeted for business and enterprise use. The AppHQ also provides choice business apps and tools that easily jive with the Cius’ collaboration capabilities.
The Cius and AppHQ tandem is intended to give IT personnel less headaches when controlling company-issued Cius tablets. Through the AppHQ Manager, a company’s IT department can control what apps can be downloaded and installed on the Cius. The AppHQ Manager also enables companies to build their own custom storefronts carrying the company’s brand; in other words, it provides a mechanism for apps curation for the company’s employees.
Also included in the Cius are business productivity apps such as WebEx (Cisco’s home-grown online meeting app), Jabber (for instant messaging), Quad (an app for enterprise social networking), and Virtual Experience Infrastructure or VXI (for secure access to cloud-based business applications). To protect privacy and ensure security, the Cisco Cius employs enterprise-level security using a combination of hardware and software encryption.
The Cius tablet itself has interesting specs. It runs on Android 2.2 Froyo, packs a 1.6-GHz Intel Atom mobile processor, and carries 32 gigabytes of internal storage. It’s 7-inch display size makes it portable and light enough (at 1.5 pounds) for mobile use. It can connect to networks via Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and 3G/4G, with Verizon as the choice carrier for data services. Connectivity to AT&T has also been announced by Cisco.
An optional docking station and a handset are also available. The battery of the Cius is user-replaceable, too.
Given its price, the Cius is clearly a tablet not meant for just anyone or for ordinary consumers. Cisco also frequently insists that the Cius is targeted at businesses and corporate consumers. Amidst the barrage of Android tablets that are better spec’d, are less expensive, and are also worthy of enterprise use, what do you think are Cisco’s chances of succeeding in pushing the Cius to its target market?