As Research In Motion launched its PlayBook on Thursday, Cisco Systems was already accepting orders for its Cius enterprise tablet and shipping it to some customers.
Cisco said in a blog post last week that its direct sales representatives and channel partners began accepting orders for the Cius on March 31. Through the end of May, the company is delivering the devices to "key customer accounts we've identified with unique use cases," spokeswoman Molly Ford said. These companies will carry out scaled production deployments of the Cius, according to Cisco.
However, the Cius won't be generally available in the US until May 31, Ford said. That is two months beyond the forecast Cisco gave at the Cius announcement last June, when it said the product would be generally available in the first quarter of this year. However, given the current upheaval at Cisco, a delay is not surprising. Last week, CEO John Chambers called on the company to take dramatic steps to refocus itself, and the future of its consumer-facing businesses is now in doubt.
Though it may end up being compared with the Apple iPad 2 in some enterprises, the Cius is not intended to go up against that device or any other consumer tablet. Cisco is aiming the product at business collaboration, with the ability to interoperate with the company's TelePresence videoconferencing system, the Cisco Quad and Cisco Show social-networking platforms, and the company's WebEx online meeting system. The Cius, which is based on the Android 2.2 operating system, is also designed to run business applications.