Cisco's decision to no longer actively support the Cius tablet is a milestone of sorts. At one time - and not too long ago - the Cius was to be Cisco's answer to the iPad for use in the enterprise.
It's become clear, though, that in many important ways the iPad has won. Cisco's rationale for pulling the plug was that people are bringing their devices to work and, therefore, a piece of enterprise-specific hardware isn't called for. That was the theme of the eWeek story and the blog post announcing it by Senior Vice President O.J. Winge. Indeed, eWeek backed the assessment by citing a convincing piece of Cisco research:
That sentiment was backed up in Cisco's IBSG Horizons Study, which was released May 16. The study indicated that 95 percent of organizations responding to a survey said they allowed employee-owned devices into the workplace in some fashion, and that 36 percent of enterprises offer full support for such devices.
The bottom line is that the ground has shifted away from the original rationale for creating the Cius. Why build a device that nobody wants to use? What is interesting, however, is where this leaves Research In Motion's PlayBook, which has roughly the same rationale as the Cius.
RIM seems to have missed the email saying that a business-oriented device - or at least one that is partially business-oriented - won't cut it. TechCrunch reports that RIM is readying a version of the PlayBook that will run on Long Term Evolution (LTE) networks. The site lauds the move, suggesting that it upgrading the software beats building a new device from the ground up. Indeed, it has been a while since it was possible to read something positive about anything connected with RIM:
The PlayBook has actually aged quite well. The computing hardware and screen is still competitive to current tablets on the market. BlackBerry 10 would likely make existing PlayBook owners very happy although by the time the OS hits later this year, companies and consumers might shy away from the older tablet. But as long as the 4G PlayBook isn't tied to a two-year contract like other carrier-sold tablets, RIM might be able to sell several to those still addicted to their crackberrys.
In any case, it's an Apple world. Last month, for instance, Good Technology reported that virtually all of the enterprise tablets it activated - 97.3 percent - were iPads. That's a 2.6 percent increase compared to the already staggering figure from the previous three-month period.
Numbers like those suggest that Apple will continue to dominate. Vendors that want to get even a small piece of the pie are advised to do what RIM did, which is to update an existing device. That device doesn't have to primarily be an enterprise tablet. Since BYOD approaches use consumer devices, it makes sense to upgrade them to carry the enterprise load more efficiently and take whatever crumbs fall off iPad table.