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Does Cisco buying Skype make sense?

If you ever watched the later seasons of 24, you’ll recall that Jack and his buddies at the Counter Terrorist Unit were always using Cisco Telepresence for video-conferencing. That was no surprise. John Chambers, Cisco’s CEO, has long thought that Cisco should be thought of as not just the big dog of networking, but of Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) and video-conferencing as well. Alas, while some enterprises bought into this, most people still preferred cheaper, easier solutions like Skype.

Indeed, if you were ask people about VoIP, I have no doubt that, Skype, and not Cisco, would be the first brand to spring to mind. After all, Skype has become almost omnipresent in PC-based VoIP and video-conferencing despite the best efforts of rivals ranging from Cisco to the business video-conferencing vendors such as Polycom and Tandberg to would-be contenders for small-office/home (SOHO) video-conferencing like ooVoo.

Making matters worse, Juniper and Polycom have been invading Cisco’s networking hardware/VoIP/teleconferencing turf. And, on top of that, now Google wants in the VoIP business as well with its new Gmail/Google Voice integration package. What’s a CEO to do?

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