January 04, 2012, 1:26 PM — Cisco's Umi consumer TelePresence product really is dead - a fact the company had to reiterate to a disbelieving public this week even though it had telegraphed the move back in April.
Back then, Cisco said it was shifting the expensive, unpopular and ultimately ill-fated high-def consumer webcam to its business video and collaboration unit as it gutted its consumer business and killed the very popular Flip pocket videocam. Then in October, a Cisco official told IDG News Service West Coast Correspondent Stephen Lawson that the product was indeed discontinued.
MORE TECH DEATHS: The 2011 IT graveyard
Last week, Network World blogger Larry Chaffin confirmed that Umi was pulled from the shelves of retailers and that Cisco had indeed quietly and unceremoniously buried the product and moved on. This finally made believers out of the blogosphere this week.
Said Cisco of the move, according to published reports this week:
"While we are ending the sale of Umi, the Umi service remains unchanged. Existing customers will continue to be able to use the service to make calls to other Umi subscribers or to Google video chat accounts."
When it was introduced in October 2010, Cisco's Umi cost $600 for equipment plus a recurring charge of $25 per month, on top of what consumers already pay their service provider for broadband Internet access. Analysts were quick to pan its steep price, especially when free webcamming services like Skype are, well, free - and only 20% of broadband-enabled households use the free stuff.
After a disappointing Christmas 2010, Cisco last spring cut Umi's price to $499 and introduced a slightly lower-quality version for $399, while cutting the service cost to $99 per year or $9.95 per month. The cheaper box also required less bandwidth.
It didn't help. Umi was essentially DOA. Shifting Umi to business collaboration and then ultimately killing it were mere formalities, ceremonies to confirm and to mourn its stillbirth. Old news lives longer than a terminally ill product.
Vive la Skype!