Linksys name is no more

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Linksys name is no more

Alex Scroxton

Having spent five years mulling over the future of its SOHO and consumer brand Linksys, Cisco quietly announced this morning that the division - which saw its SMB channel merged into Cisco's registered partner programme last month - will now be formally known as the Cisco Consumer Business Group (CBG).

The news confirms expectations in the channel that Linksys was going to be allowed to slip away very soon; at the start of the month MicroScope heard talk in the SMB Select channel that Cisco account managers were gearing up their resellers for the switchover.

Cisco announced earlier this year that the Linksys product brand was transitioning to 'Linksys by Cisco' and that for the time being would continue to coexist with Cisco brand products. In a statement, Cisco reaffirmed its commitment to making further changes "if and when these changes add value to our customers' decision-making processes and our channel partners".

According to Cisco, CBG will focus on building and maintaining Linksys' retail, online and consumer reseller channels. The vendor added that the move will hopefully build greater awareness of the product set in the North American market, where it has traditionally been quite weak.

The re-branded unit will focus on "capturing" the move among consumers from traditional home networks sharing broadband connections between PCs and printers to multimedia networking services around areas such as digital TV, for example. Cisco has predictably dubbed this 'Home Networking 2.0'.

Cisco CBG representatives were unavailable for comment at the time of writing.

Linksys' life

Founded in 1988, Linksys turned up in the UK in 1999 shortly after introducing one of the industry's first sub-$200 cable/DSL routers. It continued to rapidly expand its business as an independent firm, shipping over two million routers in 2002 alone.

It was five years ago in 2003 that Cisco came knocking on the door. It picked up Linksys in an acquisition that helped Cisco, then a pure-play business networking firm, establish a longed for footprint in the consumer space, while in return Linksys got access to Cisco's massive marketing machine.

Cisco got behind Linksys from the off, and it later acquired Sipura Technology, KiSS Technologies and Ashley Laurent to bulk up the Linksys proposition, but talk was already spreading that the name was going to be axed.

Over the past three years Linksys has continued to develop and refine its product line-up, but it has never quite shaken off talk that its days as a distinct brand were numbered. In 2007, Cisco boss John Chambers let slip that Linksys would indeed be folded into Cisco eventually, a gaffe later retracted, but a statement that has now turned out to be true, bringing to an end Linksys' 20-year history.


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