John Chambers' video vision: Shortsighted

Cisco Systems wants us to believe that video is "the killer app," but the Web and, indeed, its own product strategy, suggest that shorter-form communication is the key to its future.

Cisco Systems CEO John Chambers calls video "the killer app," but apparently, he hasn't been paying attention to trends on the Web, or even to his company's own emerging-collaboration story .

Video, while great, takes too long. We e-mail, instant-message, and tweet for a reason: it's short and to the point. Who has time to watch a video each them they want to communicate?

Perhaps even more critically, as Hampus Jakobsson pointed out to me (over Twitter, no less), video "requires full attention--the scarcest of all resources."

Cisco gets this. At least, groups within Cisco get this. That's why Cisco Senior Vice President Doug Dennerline's WebEx team has been adding presence and instant messaging through Jabber, e-mail through PostPath, and more to its Web-conferencing suite.

It's also why Cisco will almost certainly add some form of office productivity suite to WebEx, despite protestations to the contrary from Alex Hadden-Boyd, director of marketing for the collaboration software group at Cisco. (Apparently, Hadden-Boyd didn't see the memo from his boss, Dennerline.)

Zoho, anyone?

Zoho is a leading competitor to Google Apps and, in many areas, actually surpasses Google Apps. While some of Zoho's applications directly overlap with Cisco's current products, the sheer breadth (and, in some cases, depth) of its office productivity and collaboration story must be intriguing to acquisition-hungry Cisco .

Some suggest that Google will struggle to make it in the enterprise due to security concerns with Google Apps. Cisco doesn't have that problem. Its brand oozes "enterprise." As such, it may well be Cisco that changes the face of enterprise computing...by initially changing the way we communicate and collaborate within the enterprise.

Just don't hold your breath for video to part the waters. Video has its place, but it's a highly verbose form of communication, and the Web's most popular technologies increasingly teach us to speak sparingly.

Indeed, I think that we'll see Cisco acquire Control Yourself, the company behind open-source Twitter lookalike Identi.ca, before it changes the world through video.


Follow me on Twitter @mjasay.

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About the author

    Matt Asay is chief operating officer at Canonical, the company behind the Ubuntu Linux operating system. Prior to Canonical, Matt was general manager of the Americas division and vice president of business development at Alfresco, an open-source applications company. Matt brings a decade of in-the-trenches open-source business and legal experience to The Open Road, with an emphasis on emerging open-source business strategies and opportunities. He is a member of the CNET Blog Network and is not an employee of CNET. You can follow Matt on Twitter @mjasay.

     

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