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Cisco ploughs into consumer channel

Alex Scroxton

Cisco has ploughed headlong into the consumer channel with the launch of the Cisco Consumer Channel Network formed from the remnants of the Linksys channel.

The new programme accompanies Cisco's launch of a home audio portfolio at CES Las Vegas, as revealed in MicroScope.

The revamped programme will provide resellers with resources, tools and training on the current Linksys by Cisco consumer product portfolio, as well as the media hub kit, which includes a NAS storage box, digital music player, remote control units, speakers and iPod dock.

In a statement Cisco European vice president Ulrike Tegtmeier said that further features and offerings will be added to the programme over the next few months. According to its website the media hub products will be made available to UK partners through Computer 2000, Ingram Micro and Micro-P.

Cisco also used its presence at CES to launch a new multi-vendor programme called Cisco Device Connections. The programme will enable other networking vendors to make use of Cisco's Home Network Administration Protocol (HNAP) technology into their own products.

One competitor who declined to be named questioned the timing of Cisco's sudden consumer epiphany but admitted that "it could be a way to prolong their battle with Microsoft, or to combat the infiltration of the consumer space by firms like Google."

Microsoft has already seen some success with its Media Center Extender kit and Apple is also in this market, among others, so it is likely Cisco will face tough competition.

John Chambers also dropped strong hints that there is more to come after confirming rumours that Cisco would be bringing out a home version of its telepresence video-conferencing technology.

"You will see a steady stream of product announcements, of partnership announcements and acquisition announcements," he told reporters.

Cisco spokespeople were unavailable for comment.


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