Cisco: Coming to a Store Near You?

I can name dozens of things that are wonderful about the tech industry. Here's one: Everything changes. Take Monday, for example. That's when the Financial Times of London reported that networking gear maker Cisco (Nasdaq: CSCO  ) plans an all-out assault on the consumer electronics market.

That's right. Not Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL  ) . Not Dell (Nasdaq: DELL  ) . Not Microsoft. But ... Cisco. Is this a joke? No, apparently not.

The idea, the FT reports, is to sell everything from phones to radios to home theater equipment. I'll admit that I was surprised when the news first broke. In fact, I wondered if CEO John Chambers had gone loopy. But then I remembered that it wasn't long ago that Cisco offered $43 a share to acquire television set-top box maker Scientific-Atlanta (NYSE: SFA  ) . And I had to admit that I practically demanded that Google (Nasdaq: GOOG  ) buy TiVo (Nasdaq: TIVO  ) because of the inevitable convergence of the Web and TV.

Such thoughts made me reconsider my position, and I now wonder if the move isn't brilliant. As Cisco Chief Development Officer Charles Giancarlo told the paper, "The Internet and new networking requirements are enough of a disruptor for us to enter a new market."

Exactly. All consumer electronics are in some way leaning toward Web connectivity. Of all the tech majors, except Intel, Cisco may have the easiest time making that a reality. Indeed, its routers have been delivering data to servers around the globe for more than a decade now. And with the Scientific-Atlanta deal, it soon will be able to bring more of the Internet straight to your TV.

Of course, this could also amount to nothing more than a lot of arm-waving. But I wouldn't bet on it. After all, Rule Breaking often appears to be nothing more than hype ... just before it occurs and reshapes the way we live in the process. Remember that when you're shopping the convergence aisle at Best Buy (NYSE: BBY  ) next Christmas.

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Fool contributorTim Beyersis still high on high-tech. He just can't help himself. Tim doesn't own shares in any of the companies mentioned in this story at the time of publication. You can find out what's in his portfolio by checking Tim's Foolprofile. The Motley Fool has an ironcladdisclosure policy.


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