Consumer push won

Cisco CEO John Chambers recently said the network equipment giant is planning a major consumer advertising push aimed at making Cisco’s brand recognizable to the average Internet user. This isn’t really much of a surprise, since Cisco announced an agreement to buy set-top box maker Scientific Atlanta almost a year ago. Scientific Atlanta’s gear sits atop, beside, or underneath the televisions of millions of comsumers around the globe.

Cisco’s impending push into the consumer market raises the question of whether the company’s enterprise focus will waiver as a result. While the thought of Cisco ignoring its bread-and-butter enterprise clients might warm the hearts of the firm’s various competitors, it’s unlikely to become reality.

For starters, Scientific Atlanta wasn’t Cisco’s first consumer acquisition. Back in 2003, Cisco reached an agreement to buy Linksys, a maker of home, and small business, networking products. No one would argue that Cisco’s commitment to the enterprise has faltered since then. The company has continued to ship a wide array of new hardware and software products covering switching, security, wireless, voice and video. And there’s been no noticeable swell of enterprise complaints about a lack of support from Cisco. The company also has a track record of performing well in multiple markets. While Cisco got its start in the enterprise, the company also has a successful carrier equipment unit and is pushing into the small- and medium-business markets.

If anything, Cisco’s move into the consumer market should worry its enterprise competitors. The Cisco brand, already strong in the enterprise, will become even stronger once it establishes itself in people’s homes. In the long-term, network managers who have grown up with Cisco-branded gear in the home may be more likely to purchase Cisco gear at work.

Much like Microsoft has become synonymous with the personal computer and Boeing with aircraft, Chambers wants to make Cisco synonymous with the Internet. If he can raise the profile of Cisco in the consumer market he’ll be well on his way to achieving that goal.

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