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Cisco and Microsoft Can't Communicate

May 29, 2013 | Telepresence Options

Cisco Microsoft


Story and Images by Larry Walsh / ChannelNomics

No love is lost between Cisco Systems Inc. and Microsoft Corp. in the race to dominate the unified communications market. For the last several years, the two have been locked in a bitter battle over technologies, products and market share in this emerging segment. Once again, Cisco is looking to blunt its rival's advances by challenging Microsoft's acquisition of Skype.

Cisco yesterday asked the powerful European Commission to again review�Microsoft's $8.5 billion acquisition of Skype, claiming the regulatory court erred when it approved the deal following the 2011 acquisition.

Observers say Cisco isn't really interested in overturning the acquisition, but rather in having European regulators force Microsoft to open its protocols and provide better integration with Cisco's Telepresence and video-conferencing products.

Cisco claims its Telepresence products -- technology that emulates real-world meetings through expensive HD video and audio equipment -- is a strong revenue-generator, and its collaboration unit is a billion-dollar business. However, last year, Cisco saw a steep drop in video-conferencing sales as competitors fielded "good enough" alternatives.

Worse for Cisco (which pegged telepresence as the technology to replace revenue for its declining commoditized products): All video-conference players -- including those from Avaya Inc., Polycom Inc., LifeSize -- have seen growth blunted by free alternatives and consumer products, such as Skype.

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