January 30, 2006 4:00 AM PST
Is TiVo next on Cisco's push into homes?
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The adapter fits into wireless routers or other consumer electronics products, and it uses multiple antennae to steer wireless signals around obstacles.
Ruckus also uses traffic management software to enable service providers to remotely monitor and manage the quality of the service. Because the technology can be easily embedded into existing hardware, Cisco could add it into the Scientific-Atlanta set-top box or use it in the Kiss DVR product.
Another possible acquisition candidate for Cisco is Nintendo, the No. 3 game console maker in the U.S.
A stretch? Not really. Microsoft, which is emerging as a key competitor to Cisco in the home entertainment market, is already in this market with the Xbox 360. Gaming has already proved to be a strong application for broadband, so it makes sense that Cisco would want to own a game device to help drive more traffic on its network. With its popular GameBoy product, Nintendo would also provide Cisco an entree into the mobile-handheld market.
Another possible target could be the start-up Sling Media, maker of the Sling Box. Sling essentially turns video feeds into IP packets and sends the signal out again over the Internet.
Then there's TiVo. It has a well-developed software interface, and it has one of the most recognizable brands in the DVR market.
But there are several reasons a partnership with TiVo is much more likely than an acquisition. For one, Cisco already has DVR functionality as part of the set-top boxes it's acquiring from Scientific-Atlanta. Second, TiVo carries a $460 million market capitalization. Third, TiVo suffered a serious blow in distribution when one of its major partners, DirecTV, decided to end a reseller relationship. TiVo now has a distribution deal with Comcast.
"The deal stopper for Cisco would probably be the fact that TiVo is losing customers," said Albert Lin, an analyst with American Technology Research.
More big Cisco home entertainment moves may take some time to happen.
"Cisco will go slowly in digesting Scientific-Atlanta," said Murray Arenson, a senior analyst at Ferris Baker Watts. "There are still a lot of hanging question marks to answer before they go out and acquire anything else in this market."
CNET News.com reporters Tom Krazit and Stefanie Olsen contributed to this report.
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