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Dear Cisco [Jabber, Umi, Skype, Google Edition]

Dear Cisco,

I know you’re an enterprise-focused company and in light of recent events you’ve proven your loyalty there. But let’s take a look at that consumer market in a different light, because your competitors are doing just that. First up:

Skype… oh yeah, and Microsoft

No one seems to be quite sure if Microsoft understands what they did here and the incredible potential the purchase provides. I work with enterprises to design their UC systems every day and lately I’ve been hearing a lot of this, “What’s the deal with SIP trunking? Can I use that to connect to Skype? We have a bunch of vendor support teams in *insertforeigncountryhere* that only use Skype. Plus, all our execs use Skype when they travel.”

This next idea should scare the daylights out of anyone on Cisco’s sales team. Native Skype “node” built into MS Lync 2.0’s edge server. Take a look at these usage numbers from Wikipedia. Direct access to all those users from your Lync client using their impressive SILK super-wideband, adaptive bitrate, audio codec and also offering video (conferencing)? Everyone was scratching their heads, but it’s a wonder Skype wasn’t snapped up by Cisco or Microsoft sooner.

And then there’s Google – http://goo.gl/WjwNj

Google may not be an enterprise UC player yet, but that doesn’t mean they won’t soon be taking a share of the SMB market through their Google Apps program by adding GVoice in the near future. Could you imagine if Google offered a simple IVR to all of their GApps customers? For the <20 user businesses it’d be incredible. Now take a look at the link above if you haven’t already. Chrome OS + native & free video chat using their new WebRTC & iLBC?  Instant access to all of their existing gMail, gTalk & GVoice users? With high-quality audio & video? The power of the masses strikes again.

So where does this leave Cisco? It means that while they cancelled Flip, may be selling Linksys, and Umi is a flop because they doesn’t get consumer pricing, they still have an opportunity with consumer UC. Cisco needs to attack the consumer market with their own free desktop IM/presence/voice/video client just like their competitors. I think that opportunity is Umi Connect.

(sidenote – WebEx Connect? Umi Connect? Is it possible they’re using the same Client Services Framework backend for this Umi Connect client? please say yes)

Back on point, supposedly a Umi Connect desktop client will be available for free to Umi subscribers this fall. I say make it available for free to anyone this fall. Charge for video voicemail storage, charge for the Umi hardware, but give the client away for free. Your competitors are doing it. Build native federation between Umi Connect and WebEx Connect. Make federation to a corporate Cisco Unified Presence Server a checkbox to select during install. Give away a free client, connect it to the meet.webex.com beta site and you’ll have users by the boatload. And then you’ll have a leg to stand on when Microsoft announces a builtin Skype node in Lync 2.0.