Microsoft Kinect for Xbox 360 Versus Cisco Umi

If you haven’t seen any of the press releases this last week around Microsoft’s Xbox Kinect launch the rock you are living under must have its own postcode. Seriously. Although I haven’t received my Kinect yet (its in the mail) I am looking forward to testing out the new video chat feature with Live Messenger 2011. I am a part time gamer but I also use my Xbox 360 for Netflix. So having a Xbox live subscription is something I already have. If you buy from Amazon you can get a Live Gold subscription for about $40 a year.

So when video chat was announced it made perfect sense. The fact you can connect with Windows Live Messenger 2011 made even more sense still. There are also some other scenarios that make sense that I am sure will come to light in the coming months.


Kinect Video and Live Messenger 2011

I can’t say the same for Cisco’s Umi. Even though it may have the leg up around video resolution with 1080p, the price tag is the least compelling piece of the Umi story. At close to $600 for the unit itself and $25 paid to Cisco a month to participate, it just doesn’t make sense from a consumer point of view. The fact that I can buy an Xbox 360 250Gb bundled with a Kinect ($399 at Amazon) and a yearly Xbox subscription ($40 at Amazon) for less than the price of the Umi may make Umi a nonstarter.



Subscription Fee

Video Res

Who Can You Talk To?

Other uses

Cisco ūmi


$24.99 monthly subscription


Google Talk users


Microsoft Kinect for Xbox 360

$399.99 (Xbox 250 Gb + Kinect Bundle; $149.99 Kinect only)

Requires $49.99 per year Xbox LIVE Gold membership ($39 from Amazon)


Windows Live Messenger 2011

Gaming, Netflix streaming video, Messenger, ESPN

While Umi may be able to talk with Google Talk users I think the 330 million Windows Live users makes a much more compelling story. I was unable to find up to date numbers for Google which indicates to me that their overall market share is probably pretty low.

In the end, price and functionality are going to be the killer of Cisco Umi or any other at home Telepresence single function device for that matter. Video to other family members just isn’t that compelling from a consumer standpoint when there are free and low cost options such as Kinect, Live Messenger etc. Even the high end consumer is going to look pretty hard at what they are getting. I don’t think that there are that many reckless consumers in the market t that Umi is actually going to be around for very long in its current proposed format. Unless Cisco drastically change the startup or reoccurring cost I think their move into the consumer video market space is going to be a flop.

Video is certainly a big push at Cisco and for many companies video is seen as a cost saver and strategically important. But the consumer space is quite a different story with so many free options. The fact my Xbox will do video with Kinect is a bonus not something I specifically brought it for. Although I am excited about it, its not going to be the first thing I am going to try out. I think you get what I am talking about here.

In the end Kinect is just so much more compelling with sales expected to be in 2-5 million this Holiday season. Along with 40 million daily users of Windows Live and 34 million Xbox live subscribers there is already a large audience ready for Kinect Video. As for Umi, hmmm it does HD. Cool.

Comments welcomed.



  1. The thing that ultimately could make Cisco successful here is the user experience and the Mom and Dad experience. Is it easier to set up than an Xbox? Does full screen video look considerably better and more lifelike? Both are relatively closed systems (with some promise of interop - but not with each other).

    Xbox has a big leg up due to the install base, but I won't bet against Cisco.

  2. I think you’re over estimating the user experience in the home for video and Mom and Dad probably already have an Xbox (or other gaming console) in a tech savy household. I doubt that a household will buy a single use device. This might be common in the kitchen but when it comes to technology consumers have come accustomed to multifunction devices. When you do find single use its usually pretty low cost like the DVD player.
    I happen to think that in the end cost will kill Umi. I don’t think user experience will even rate a mention when people realize that you need to pay $25 a month to get continued service. They already pay for phones, internet, and cable monthly. I just don’t think most consumer will stomach another monthly charge to basically to be able to talk to nobody. Yes there is Google talk but user base is limited when you compare to the user base of Live and Xbox.

    In the end I will be buying a great upgrade to my Xbox that includes video chat. How about you?

    Kinect or Umi?

  3. I think the fact that Kinect is "multi-purpose (Games, IM, video chat, Netflix streaming, zune ESPN etc.) is a big plus compared to one box used for one purpose and a number of "service" charges.

    With xbox live Gold subscriptions at least I can use the service for online games, HD movies, twitter and facebook, music from etc.

    $599 for the equipment, plus a monthly service charge of $24.99 for unlimited video calling? That's going to be Cisco's biggest challenge.

    Umi can only call other Umi users- Microsoft have 350 million Live Messenger users. The success of these products is in the net effect it can create.

    Initially, Cisco umi telepresence will not interoperate with Cisco TelePresence business solutions whereas Kinect will with Lync.

    Plus Umi is only available in the US- why? I know we are a big country but why limit yourself to the US?

    Sorry Cisco- I'm not pinning my hopes of your wide-spread adoption of video in the consumer space.


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