Cisco to Buy Tandberg: Why You Should Care

Yes, this sounds like a totally IT story: connectivity giant Cisco has a deal pending to buy TANDBERG for about $3 billion. Aside from dealing with numbers that are incomprehensible compared with the typical consumer’s mortgage or rent payment, what’s the point of bringing it up here?

TANDBERG is a videoconferencing company, and Cisco has been a leading proponent of “telepresence“, which is video conferencing on steroids. This still sounds like IT territory until you consider the next detail; video conferencing in high definition is the latest thing. Ah, now that’s interesting. And Cisco also bought Linksys some years ago in order to have a strong presence in the consumer connectivity market. And that means lots of products intended for home networks.

Okay, so now it’s not too far a stretch to think that if Cisco is interested in high definition videoconferencing and telepresence systems for corporate applications, the company also could be eyeing a “lite” version for home use. We use Skype several times a week to have video calls with family members who are at a distance. It’s much more immediate and conveys a lot more information than a simple audio-only telephone call, and it’s free (if you don’t count the cost of our broadband subscriptions at both ends, but we’d have those anyway, so it doesn’t cost anything extra). I’m guessing that the Cisco roadmap includes creating hardware and software for Internet-connected home HDTVs that turn them into telepresence stations for communicating with friends and family on the big screen. You get to talk to life-size images of people, instead of getting a disembodied voice through a telephone handset.

No, it’s not hard for me to imagine my television becoming my home telephone. And it’s not difficult at all for me to imagine a Cisco or Linksys logo on some of the parts.