Last August, Cisco CEO John Chambers shared his vision of “The Next Cisco” and cited a strong need for the networking giant to go back to its core strength – networking. Since then, the company has made several key acquisitions including Lightwire and ClearAccess to boost its networking portfolio.
And when it comes to networking, the Linksys series of routers are one of Cisco’s bestselling products. However, in the last few months, the company has struggled to keep pace with arch rivals such as Netgear and D-Link who used CES 2012 as an opportunity to showcase their app-supporting and cloud-enabled routers.
Therefore, the writing was on the wall that Cisco would follow suit sooner than later. And last week, the networking giant unveiled a new line of Linksys Smart Wi-Fi Routers with app-enabled capabilities for consumers to power and enjoy their connected homes of today and tomorrow.
Perhaps, the “There’s an app for that” slogan may soon be a cliché in the router world as well.
The three new offerings priced from $99 to $199 – Linksys EA4500, EA3500, and EA2700 — where the “A” designation being short for “app-enabled” — are similar in appearance to the models in the earlier E Series but boast of more-powerful hardware and offer built-in support for Cisco Connect Cloud, the next generation of Cisco Connect software. All three devices are true dual-band Wireless-N routers, with the EA2700 supporting the 300Mbps standard on both 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands, the EA3500 also supporting the 450Mbps standard on the 5GHz band, and the EA4500 supporting 450Mbps on both bands. Additionally, they have one USB port to host an external hard drive and offer support for IPv6, guest networking, and other popular features found in the previous E Series models.
Cisco Connect Cloud is a self-managed web portal that allows users to quickly and easily manage multiple home networks from anywhere in the world. The company’s broader vision for Cisco Cloud Connect is to use it with home appliances, not just computers and electronic equipment. Cisco is working with top device manufacturers including Whirlpool to simplify the process of getting their network products — such as TVs and home appliances — connected, and to get them communicating more with one another to offer new consumer experiences.
“Users can give guests Internet access, set parental controls, and add devices to their network from anywhere at any time through Cisco Connect Cloud’s easy-to-use password-protected site,” the company said. “New apps coming from Cisco and partners will deliver additional capabilities for connected devices, so that consumers can benefit from improved home network experiences right away and for years to come.”
Cisco says the apps for these new routers will target the “home control, entertainment, and protection” segment. The first set of these applications are expected to launch in June. The new routers are now available at major retailers including Amazon.com, Best Buy, NewEgg, Target and Walmart, as well as the Linksys online store.