Let’s start with the positives. I like the Cisco Umi television ad campaign and the fact the company has kiosks in Malls across the country demonstrating the service is a great idea. However, a paid service which basically brings enhanced Skype functionality is a really tough sell to me and when there are so many other things to buy with your consumer electronics dollar such as the Microsoft Xbox Kinect and tablets galore, will the typical family opt for personal telepresence so they can see grandma a bit better than they can with Skype?
In October I detailed ten reasons why Cisco’s Umi will fail and now we have reason number 11. You see, Skype has partnered with Panasonic and Sony to introduce Skype-enabled Blu-ray Players. In addition, Sony and Vizio have introduced Skype-enabled Sony BRAVIA and VIZIO VIA TVs, which will be available later this year.
With these new Blu-Ray Players and webcams, consumers can now make Skype voice and video calls without having to purchase a Skype-enabled HDTV – products which are on the market today courtesy of Panasonic.
So the barrier to starting a high-quality video call has just dropped substantially... You can now use any TV. So Cisco has to convince consumers that $600 plus $25 per month is a reasonable price to pay for video calls which are of better quality than Skype. Oh, and unlike Skype, the Umi product will only communicate with other Cisco solutions.
Seems to me this is a pretty big dagger in the heart of Umi.
What do you think?