Exec: Cisco 'committed' to set-tops

Cisco (Nasdaq: CSCO) has used a corporate blog to reaffirm its commitment to set-top boxes and the whole customer premises equipment space and, to an extent, to expand on the comments of Chairman-CEO John Chambers, who told analysts last week that the company was "walking away" from very low margins set-top boxes.

Without openly contradicting his boss, Joe Chow, vice president and general manager of Cisco's Connected Devices business unit, used a blog to "clear up any confusion surrounding those comments."

Cisco, he said, is indeed walking away from lower margin set-top box opportunities, but the vendor has not abandoned set-tops as a business even as those devices morph into something more than low-end channel changers.

"Traditional video set-tops are transforming into intelligent video and data gateways with more advanced software features and services," Chow wrote in the blog. "These new unified gateways deliver video and other services to basic set-top boxes or consumer purchased end-point devices such as tablets or televisions. This architecture enables service providers to extend their network deeper into consumers' homes."

In other words, where necessary, a different breed of set-tops can come into play. Where unnecessary, Cisco is ready to delve into the new video delivery business with its Videoscape platform delivering to other network-connected devices. It all depends on the global market opportunity.

"For emerging markets, CPE enables Cisco to offer a complete end-to-end solution for new customers as they launch and grow their digital platforms," Chow wrote. "For customers with more advanced video platforms and in more advanced video markets, CPE provides a key strategic advantage and opportunity for Cisco."

That doesn't mean Cisco is going to go out of its way to build a new breed of cheap set-top boxes, though.

"Cisco's investment focus continues to shift toward intelligent video and data gateways, which will allow our customers to accelerate their migration to new video architectures and next generation customer experiences," Chow wrote. "As service providers migrate to these new architectures, the need for basic, traditional set-tops will reduce over time."

For more:
- Cisco's Joe Chow wrote this blog

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