And so it's out: Cisco confirmed on Wednesday that the Cius tablet would be available on July 31st for a price tag of $750, though subscribers to a Triple V (Voice, Video, Virtualization) service package could get the hardware for less than $700 through October.
As I wrote several days ago, the 50%-more-than-an-iPad price will seem high to consumers/regular workers who won't naturally appreciate business collaboration features like integration with Webex, Jabber messaging, Telepresence (real-time videoconferencing) and more.
For video-focused/network-centric IT managers, however, $750 won't seem like much at all in the grand scheme of their TCO calculations. Subscriptions to Cisco services like the Triple V will cost much more, and provide most of the value.
Besides the price tag, which had been a semi-guarded secret/shifting target from the San Jose networking giant, the news about the Cius included this:
1) The Cius will run a 1.2 GHz Intel Atom Z615 chip. The Z600 line of low-power single-core chips released a year ago were said by Intel to be the fastest smartphone chip at the time and capable of 1080p video. Delivering on that will be key for the video-centric Cius, though there are no other proof points from other prior devices. Overall on specs, a single-core chip feels retrogressive with other Android tablets like the Galaxy Tab and the Xoom all using dual-core ARMs.
2) The Cius will ship with Android 2.2 but be upgraded to Android 3.0 Honeycomb some time in the future.
3) Cisco has built an enterprise app store for the Cius called AppHQ. This is an important feature for IT, giving departments a powerful tool for managing how apps are delivered, updated - and even blocked - on devices used at a company.
However, enterprise app stores are by no means exclusive to the Cius. Using mobile device management software such as Sybase's Afaria, this can be constructed by IT for any device.
4) Customers publicly testifying for the Cius included Palomar Pomerado Health, CDW, Nervecentre Software, Nottingham University Hospitals, University of Wisconsin-Whitewater and Verizon.
Knowing a little how difficult it is to get public testimonials, and how few other enterprises have confirmed the use of tablets beyond the iPad, that could be the most impressive bit of news, depending on your perspective.