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Businesses Networking The Almighty Buck Wireless Networking Technology

Cisco Rumored To Be Selling Linksys 180

Posted by timothy
from the buy-and-revive-the-linux-ones dept.
New submitter drdread66 writes "Cisco seems to be giving up on another technology acquisition. Hot on the heels of a full writedown for shuttering Flip Video, Cisco is now looking at another potentially huge loss from unloading Linksys."
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Cisco Rumored To Be Selling Linksys

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  • Good move. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 17, 2012 @07:56AM (#42312817)

    It was a brand dilution problem and confused SME's into assuming that they had the Cisco Enterprise grade equipment when Linksys are just toys.

  • Re:Good move. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by crafty.munchkin (1220528) on Monday December 17, 2012 @07:58AM (#42312835)
    It wouldn't have been such a problem if they'd kept calling things Linksys, and not put the Cisco Systems logo all over everything. Then releasing all the Linksys kit as Cisco SMB - that was just crazy.
  • Re:Good move. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by arielCo (995647) on Monday December 17, 2012 @08:19AM (#42312909)

    Any manager that buys Linksys branded hardware because "it's made by Cisco" should be fired or demoted, at least given a single stern warning if you're feeling generous.

  • by philip.paradis (2580427) on Monday December 17, 2012 @08:29AM (#42312951)

    Speaking as someone who deals with Cisco gear on nearly a daily basis, I fully agree with the premise of people needing to understand the difference between Cisco gear and alternatives designed for smaller environments. That said, most of the issues with Linksys products in recent years have been attributable to Cisco neglecting the hell out of Linksys branded product lines, and simply using the resulting failures to attempt to sell Cisco branded gear. It's been truly shameful, and I'd love to see it come to a stop.

  • Re:Good move. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 17, 2012 @08:38AM (#42312987)

    I don't work in IT and am simply an end user, but I can largely agree with this out of my own experience.

    I used to associate Linksys with something that worked, with no frills and a bottom 30% price tag. I just bought a router and would in the past have looked straight at the Linksys ones because it doesn't have to do any tricks. These days however I have no idea what I'm supposed to associate Linksys with.

    Illustrates the value of brand identity.

  • by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Monday December 17, 2012 @08:42AM (#42313007) Homepage Journal

    what are they supposed to be doing then? Holographic storage? Heh.

    The right thing to do would have been to take the bags of money they made selling ZIP disks and invest it in next-generation storage of some kind. As you say, even holographic. This would have given the company a chance at a future, though they would have had to fire a shitload of people and go into near-dormancy when removable magnetic media got shit upon by flash RAM becoming inexpensive. Instead they chose the long road to extinction.

  • Re:Good move. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Tridus (79566) on Monday December 17, 2012 @08:53AM (#42313077) Homepage

    Since Linksys was actually a home user brand, that problem didn't exist until Cisco came in and started slapping "Cisco" all over the product.

    Brands are targeted at a market for a reason.Linksys pre-acquisition made perfectly serviceable home user grade hardware at a good price. Cisco totally screwed it up.

  • by EmagGeek (574360) <gterich AT aol DOT com> on Monday December 17, 2012 @09:32AM (#42313263) Journal

    That's Cisco's own damn fault. The hardware in the Linksys is perfectly capable of doing all of those things, except Cisco simply chooses to disable that functionality in firmware to coerce you into buying the EXACT SAME HARDWARE with different, much more expensive, non-crippled firmware.

    Even the cheaper Micrel or Realtek switch fabrics support things like individual port enable and PoE allocation, and feature-rich diagnostics via a serial register interface.

    They're falling into the same trap that automakers are. "If you want a $400 sunroof, you have to buy the $4500 leather and NAV package."

    If you want to be able to turn of an individual port, you have to buy the $5000 switch with eleventy features you don't want, rather than the $100 switch.

  • Re:Firmware (Score:4, Insightful)

    by semi-extrinsic (1997002) <<asmunder> <at> <stud.ntnu.no>> on Monday December 17, 2012 @09:39AM (#42313311)
    Or we knew that flashing DD-WRT instead of the PoS Cisco firmware would remove the problem within one hour of the device arriving at our domiciles. (I bought a Linksys WRT160NL just a month ago, works perfectly fine with a proper firmware. Current uptime 29 days.)
  • Re:Good move. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bleh-of-the-huns (17740) on Monday December 17, 2012 @09:43AM (#42313337)

    I disagree, I think the Cisco SG300 and SG500 series switches are excellent value for what they are. A good quality introduction into managed switches with a decent feature set, and essentially running catos light (okay maybe light light would be better).

    I picked up 2 of them on Amazon a while back (20 port and 10 port), and they are perfect for the small business. The downside (at least from Cisco's standpoint), is that had they not had they not purchased Linksys, and retool the business class products into Cisco branded slightly upgraded small business devices at a much cheaper price point, those same businesses may have actually purchased the lower end Cisco enterprise products (Catalyst etc) at a much higher price point.

    So the move probably cannibalized some of those sales.

    Either way, having used Cisco, Juniper, Extreme, Fore and many more in a past life, I can say that the SG series are at least decent pieces of equipment. However, a caveat is that I never used Linksys business products before Cisco bought them, so I do not know how much better (or potentially worse) they have become outside of the pricing of said devices.

  • Re:Good move. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by colfer (619105) on Monday December 17, 2012 @10:13AM (#42313493)

    Linksys did not precisely compete on price value. In the realm of stores like Office Dept, Linksys was top end. After Cisco, the packaging and casing got more extreme, comparative prices went up, all the while bargain basement brands went from unreliable to fine. Didn't help that Linksys alienated the tech-savvy segment of the mass market by killing the routers that could easily be converted to open source community firmware.

  • Re:Good move. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Monday December 17, 2012 @12:23PM (#42314649) Journal

    I'm personally inclined to wonder if the Cisco Linksys acquisition was really an optimistic attempt to kneecap a potential competitor(Linksys certainly didn't have the really classy stuff, like redundant PSUs and such, nor did it have ios-equivalent commands to make your enterprise admins happy; but the capabilities of a relatively feeble ARM/MIPS SoC running linux were getting uncomfortably close to those of Cisco's ~$500-ish branch-office routers, and Linksys was putting out some definitely-adequate-for-the-money not-wholly-unmanaged rack switches and things) that ended up underestimating how quickly the utter crap segment would move toward adequacy.

    Before the market's maturation, there was some genuine shit being sold as consumer network gear(and there still is, if you get unlucky, though it's harder to feel cheated when your $15 allegedly-wireless-N router flakes out after 6 months than it was back when your $80-$100 allegedly-wireless-B router flakes out after 6 months of only actually connecting to your laptop half the time); but the basic strategy of shoving a modestly powerful SoC from one of the major wireless vendors onto a more-or-less reference design PCB and equipping it either with Linux(on the high end) or VXworks(for the real cheap seats) is something that even the nastiest bottom feeders can usually get mostly right. The firmware will usually be terrible; but the nasty bottom feeders also have no real incentive to lock out 3rd-party firmware, which has gotten pretty decent.

    If the consumer/SOHO networking market still looked like it did when Linksys was purchased, the buy might actually have been a good idea: assimilate the company that was getting a little uppity in terms of feature sets for the money, bump the prices on their classier gear, nerf the features on their lower end stuff, and call it a day. Trouble is, outside of the extremely low end(where margins are so tight that you can't even be sure that the wall-wart won't set your house on fire), shoving SoCs in plastic boxes is totally commodified and firmware(while each vendor seems to have a perverse desire to roll their own shitty version, rather than just slapping a lightly branded OpenWRT build on it) has gotten better over time, and still has a marginal cost of $0 to ship the nicest and most featureful build you have available to you. That's just not a place where Cisco can win: Cisco has a high-margin/lots of features market to protect, so they do incur a cost if they start shipping their good firmware on cheap hardware; but 'tenda' or 'trendnet' or any other "Who the hell are they?" outfit has nothing to lose and everything to gain if their firmware is as good as it can possibly be. They don't necessarily have the cash to actually write good firmware, and that firmware won't be running on good hardware; but even bad hardware can be pretty good, and the overall quality of embedded linuxes has gotten significantly better.

  • Re:Good move. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Chris Burke (6130) on Monday December 17, 2012 @03:12PM (#42316353) Homepage

    I used to count on Linksys for exactly three things: 1) it worked 2) it was affordable and 3) it worked with Linux out of the box. I became loyal to Linksys back in `98 when I bought a Linksys Ethernet card that had Linux drivers on the install diskette -- this was prior to those same drivers being incorporated into the Linux kernel distribution.

    Fast forward a few years, I wanted to buy a wireless card, and I saw the Linksys model. With the Cisco branding, but I thought, okay, so they bought Linksys, surely they kept the same features that I counted on Linksys for. And the answer was "no" on all three counts. Too expensive -- but hey, it'll work, and with Linux -- only it didn't work on Linux at all, and when I eventually found drivers from the chipset maker the card worked but then took a dump on me after less than a year (whereas I'm still using old Linksys ethernet cards for wired networking).

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