Post Update: RIP Umi to Consumers

Update: Cisco kills UMI Consumer Sales

I wrote this blog post back in November 2010 predicting that Umi was going to be a flop on the consumer side unless the start up and reoccurring costs changed. Well here we are in 2012 and as predicted sales to consumers has now ended for the Umi service. Even though Cisco lowered their service cost to $10 a month it wasn’t enough to save this service on the consumer side. You can still buy Umi devices at Best Buy in a fire sale, although the devices are useless to consumers unless you already have a service contract with Cisco.

Goes to show how hard it is to compete with free services like Skype in the consumer world.

Post from 2010:

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. Have you heard anything about the Lync integration with Video Kinect. If you remember this was highlighted during the Lync Launch and it still is not working.

  2. Anyone figure how to use the Umi hardware with another service?

  3. There has been no public annoucements in regards to the use of Video Kinect with Lync.

    I could not find whether Umi is compatible with other Cisco services or products from my short search. I am sure thats a question on a lot (well a few anyway) of peoples mind who brought one although I believe the Umi service will stay available for business users just not consumers.