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Cisco ditches home energy management box

The company says it's getting out of the business of home energy management dashboards and building energy management but will seek networking business in the smart grid.

Cisco Systems is shelving a home energy management console and building energy software as it retrenches to its core networking business in the smart-grid area.

In a blog post yesterday, the general manager of Cisco's smart-grid business, Laura Ipsen, said that the moves are in response to customer feedback and product trials. "We are refining our strategy so we can most effectively apply our experience and expertise in IP-based communications to the electric, gas and water networks globally," she wrote.

Cisco said it is getting out of the business of making this home energy controller.
Cisco said it is getting out of the business of making this home energy controller. Cisco

Cisco had developed a Home Energy Controller, a small console that acts as a dashboard for viewing and managing home energy. It was a high-end device, said to cost several hundred dollars, which was designed to communicate with the utility so consumers could, for example, charge electric cars at off-peak times.

Utilities, including Cisco partner Duke Energy, have been trying these energy dashboards in limited trials. But the cost and the fact that consumers already have handheld devices, such as smart phones, has led to limited uptake.

"For energy management in the home, we will transition our focus from creating premise energy management devices to using the network as the platform for supporting innovative applications," Ipsen wrote.

The decision to exit this business follows moves by Microsoft and Google, which over the past month both announced they were discontinuing their home energy Web applications.

All three big IT companies weren't successful in developing a product with wide appeal, and these forays into home energy weren't well-aligned with their existing businesses.

Cisco will continue with smart-grid efforts, but focus more on the networking infrastructure, Ipsen said. The company is trying to use its weight to tilt the industry toward using Internet Protocol-based products, such as the networking needed to communicate between smart meters or power line sensors and utilities.

Cisco purchased a software company focused on building energy management but that's a business that the company plans to phase out of. Ipsen said it is pursuing "strategic options" for those products.

Related links
• Cisco: Smart grid will eclipse size of Internet
• Cisco enters home smart-grid fray with energy display
• Cisco looks to ride smart-grid data deluge