Tools & Technologies

Cisco Kills Cisco Mail – Will Focus on Quad and Video Instead

Cisco held a big Collaboration event in November 2009 and announced a slew of collaboration products. One of those was a hosted email service, but barely 15 months later, the product has taken a bullet to the head:

Cisco Systems is dropping its hosted e-mail product. Apparently, Cisco Mail no longer fits into the company’s win column as it makes strategic decisions about its future.

Debra Chrapaty, senior vice president of collaboration software at Cisco, said technology transitions that promise to reshape industries and feedback from customers drive the company’s strategic decision-making. Those two drivers are what led Cisco to develop Cisco Mail in the first place.

“In the 13 months since, we’ve been market-testing Cisco Mail via a controlled release,” Chrapaty said. “The product has been well received, but we’ve since learned that customers have come to view their e-mail as a mature and commoditized tool versus a long-term differentiated element of their collaboration strategy. We’ve also heard that customers are eager to embrace emerging collaboration tools such as social software and video.”

This represents a write-off the $215 million paid for PostPath in August 2008, plus all the other money Cisco has been in the intervening time to develop and enhance the product. Ouch.

Although I didn’t attend the event, I published a report a week later called Cisco for Collaboration: Vendor and Product Analysis. 15 months ago I said what Cisco has just now acknowledged (from page 4, emphasis added):

From Email Into the Future. The WebEx Mail announcement is interesting, but not because of the product it represents. Email is a commodity service, and so it’s a boring announcement on its own. Rather, it is what the announcement signals that makes it interesting: that Cisco can take an organization from the dominant form of communication, interaction and collaboration today, and help it with its collaboration transformation. For example, users will be able to migrate an email discussion thread out of WebEx Mail and into Cisco ECP. Users are thus supported through the migration from what they know today (along with its associated pains and frustrations for collaborative work) into a new and enhanced future.

Mmm, “interesting” times ahead for Cisco.

Read more: NewsFactor: Cisco Drops Hosted E-Mail to Focus on Collaboration

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