Cisco Advances Social Media Platform

Cisco is continuing its push into the home this week with a series of upgrades and new initiatives that are being announced at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. Among the efforts is a new version of Cisco’s EOS media platform and a new home-based telepresence offering for consumer video conferencing.

Telepresence is Cisco’s term (also used by other providers) for high quality video conferencing systems, that it has to date sold to enterprise users. At CES, Cisco (NASDAQ: CSCO) announced that it is developing a consumer version called home telepresence. The service is not yet available though Cisco noted that it will begin trials with Verizon (NYSE: VZ) in the spring.

“Business telepresence has been the fastest growing emerging technology in Cisco’s history and has transformed the way that people communicate at work,” Cisco spokesperson Jim Brady told “We have learned a lot about how to combine high-quality video and audio to create a natural communications experience where the person you’re talking to feels like they are in the same room even when they’re thousands of miles away.”

Brady added that the home telepresence system will take advantage of a consumer’s existing HDTV and broadband connection.

“Our product is designed to compensate for poor lighting conditions, and unpredictable audio conditions to provide an amazingly, natural experience,” Brady said. “We also support standards like H.264 and believe that interoperating with other communities is essential for market success.”

Cisco’s overall video conferencing efforts could potentially be even bigger by the spring as the networking giant is closing a $3.4 billion deal to acquire Norwegian video conferencing vendor Tandberg. Cisco’s entry into the home video conferencing space also comes as the market for high quality solutions is expanding thanks to Logitech’s $405 million purchase of video conferencing vendor LifeSize in November.

EOS 2.0

Cisco is also expanding its EOS media platform with a new release this week. EOS 2.0 is a hosted platform offered by Cisco for media companies to build community Web sites. EOS was launched by Cisco at CES last year with partner Warner Music. The service was expanded in the summer with integrated social networking capabilities including the ability to integrate Twitter.

With EOS 2.0 Cisco is adding Facebook Connect integration to further expand the platform’s social networking capabilities. According to Cisco, EOS 2.0 also includes tools to help existing sites and communities migrate to the EOS platform.

Third party developers will now also be able to expand and plug into the platform by way of new public APIs for EOS 2.0.

EOS leverages both networking and software assets from Cisco. On the software side EOS builds on the efforts of vendors Five Across and Utah Street Networks the operator of the social networking site Both of those vendors were acquired by Cisco in 2007.

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