There's a new contender in the tablet computer wars. The Apple
The Cisco Cius is a tablet computer for the corporate crowd. Starting life as a Google
Snap the Cius into its docking station, and the result looks a lot like a business-grade telephone with a 7-inch full-color video screen. Cisco will start testing this product with customers later this year and then make it generally available in early 2011.
The Cius is clearly not a direct competitor to the consumer-friendly Apple iPad, because this thing screams "Office!" from every silicon cell of its existence. Steve Jobs can breathe easy this time. HP is a more likely direct rival in the corporate space, and Microsoft
Industry efforts to create a standardized UC framework have thrown Microsoft and HP into a partnership with hardware expert Logitech, video-conferencing specialist Polycom
Cisco also trumpets the Cius' "contacts-driven user experience" as an "eloquent" way of helping users connect to other people. Don't forget that this is an Android device; that makes the Cius a potentially potent weapon in Google's quest to raze Microsoft's stranglehold on business environments; every corporate campus equipped to take advantage of this gadget is another win for Google, too.
I didn't see this one coming, but I'm kind of excited about the opportunities it creates for both Cisco and Google. Did the Cius shock you, too? Share your reactions in the comments box below.