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Cisco gains new carrier for Android tablet, but warns of new layoffs

May 12, 2011 — by LinuxDevices Staff — from the LinuxDevices Archive — views

AT&T announced it will offer Cisco Systems' seven-inch Android-based Cius tablet this fall, tuned to its 4G HSPA+ network as part of a new billion dollar plan by the carrier to offer “next-generation services for businesses.” Meanwhile, struggling Cisco announced fiscal 3Q earnings showing a 17.6 percent loss in net income, and warned of more job cuts to come.

Scheduled to arrive in the fall on AT&T's 4G HSPA+ (Evolved High-Speed Packet Access) network, the Cius features a seven-inch, 1024 x 600 multi-touch display, and runs a version of Android modified with enterprise-focused Cisco software and services. In January, Verizon Wireless said it would offer a 3G version of the Cius in March and a 4G LTE version later, but so far, the tablet does not appear to have gone on sale.

Cisco Cius

Weighing 1.15 pounds and measuring 8.85 by 5.5 by 0.59 inches, the Intel Atom-based Cius can be docked in an optional HD media station. The tablet offers 32GB of internal flash memory, GPS, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and 3G/4G connectivity, says AT&T. It also offers front- and rear-facing cameras, as well as a micro-USB port, says the carrier.

A standard USB port is available on the optional docking station (see image below). In the version originally announced last June by Cisco, the station also offers a telephone handset, speakerphone, gigabit Ethernet port, and HD DisplayPort.

Cisco Cius in HD media station

Depending on customer preference, the enterprise-focused tablet offers either open or controlled access to applications, says AT&T. Other business-friendly features are said to include interoperable HD video communications, conferencing capabilities, and desktop virtualization. Adobe Flash is also said to be supported.

The Cius will be able to run Android applications, as well as those created by AT&T and Cisco. The AT&T apps are developed in collaboration with the AT&T Foundry, with locations in California, Texas, and Israel. AT&T describes the Foundry as an open environment that "enables a range of innovation that includes applications, devices, cloud services, enabling technologies and operation support."

In an increasingly crowded tablet market, the Cius will compete most directly with Research In Motion's BlackBerry PlayBook, which has also been aimed at  enterprise customers. To the Cius' advantage, the PlayBook — while called convenient, handsome and "coherently designed" — has been criticized for its necessary close relationship with BlackBerry smartphones.

Billion-dollar baby

In conjunction with the Cius announcement, AT&T announced May 11 that it plans to spend nearly $1 billion in 2011 on next-generation services for businesses. Its planned investment areas include mobility solutions and connected devices like the Cius. In addition, the investment will address cloud-based services, global enterprise networking, and small business services, as well as a particular focus on the health-care industry.

The new services, AT7T explains, are made possible by the "unprecedented proliferation of high-speed wired and wireless networks, smart mobile-computing devices, and network-based applications."

AT&T is trying to acquire competitor T-Mobile — despite some tough questions from the U.S. Senate this week. T-Mobile's spectrum holdings would enable AT&T to extend 4G LTE (Long-Term Evolution) coverage to 97 percent of the U.S. population, supporting the company's cloud-based efforts as well as devices such as the Cius. AT&T claims the acquisition would support the Obama Administration's efforts to connect more Americans to the Internet, in an effort to promote new jobs and economic growth.

Cisco: more belt-tightening ahead

In a May 11 conference call to announce fiscal third quarter 2011 earnings, Cisco officials warned of job cuts and more reorganization inside the company as the networking giant looks to regain its footing after several difficult financial quarters.

Cisco Chairman and CEO John Chambers warned that the company may miss analysts' forecasts in profits and revenues in the current quarter, and said that expected cuts of $1 billion in operating revenue over the next couple of quarters will include reducing Cisco's 73,400-person workforce. How many is unclear, but the company has started by instituting a voluntary retirement plan.

For the quarter, sales grew 4.8 percent over the same period last year, to $10.9 billion. However, net income came in at $1.8 billion, a drop of 17.6 percent. For the fourth quarter, Cisco executives say sales will come in between $10.8 billion and $11.1 billion, lower than the $11.6 billion analysts were predicting.


AT&T will start offering the Cius tablet in the fall, but did not reveal pricing information. AT&T's Cius announcement may be found here. More information may also be found at Cisco's Cius site.

Michelle Maisto is a writer for eWEEK.

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