Uncommon Wisdom

Mar 20 2009   8:43PM GMT

Cisco does some risky business with latest purchase of Pure Digital

Tom Nolle Tom Nolle Profile: Tom Nolle

Cisco has acquired a consumer video recorder company called Pure Digital, taking another step that is either incredibly bold or just incredibly risky.

Pure Digital is a consumer device, something like you’d expect to see Apple put out. The product could be used to pump additional traffic onto the Internet, but it’s not clear whether Cisco sees this as an opportunity — their operator customers would see it only as more unrewarded traffic. It’s also possible that Cisco is just doing in the consumer space what it did in the UCS blade server announcement, which is to try to ramp up its total addressable market by entering new areas.

Some have suggested Cisco wants it for mobile video conferencing (which we seriously doubt!) All this makes it really tough to read what’s going on at Cisco. Do they plan to be some sort of network-integrated conglomerate, a new Internet-centric IBM or Microsoft? The big question is whether they can go off in all these directions at once when they’ve had succession and senior management issues for almost two years. If they can, they could truly transform the industry. You can never count Cisco out in bold moves, but if they can’t pull all these threads together they risk a major slip.

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