Over the past week the Cisco marketing machine has been building up hype over an announcement they were going to make that would “forever change the internet.” Well, the announcement came today, and turns out, they have developed a next-generation router, named CRS-3, for the largest of large ISPs (such as AT&T, Verizon Communications, Level3, and Sprint).
While the hype machine may have failed to deliver something truly revolutionary, Cisco’s announcement is still significant. The new router offers 12 times the traffic capacity than its older-generation routers offer. It’s three times faster than the older CRS-1, which was introduced in 2004. And it can handle 322 terabits of traffic per second, or simultaneous video calls for every person in China, the company said.
The new router, which starts at $90,000, will be sold to the world’s largest Internet service providers. These aren’t your run-of-the-mill ISPs selling 10 Mbps broadband service to consumers. These companies, such as AT&T, Verizon Communications, Level3, and Sprint, are the Internet service providers that aggregate and shuttle the bulk of the nation’s Internet traffic across what is known as “the Internet backbone.”
All this may be impressive, but what do you expect from the wizard behind the Internet’s curtain? Apparently, several tech writers were hoping for more.
“Cisco may have overhyped the announcement just a tad,” teased CNET’s Marguerite Reardon. “I see it more as an incremental upgrade to Cisco’s existing product, the CRS-1, which Cisco announced in 2004. IP routing is Cisco’s bread and butter. It’s not surprising that the company has developed yet another big router.”
Before the Cisco announcement, the Wall Street Journal’s bombastic blogger Kara Swisher let her hopes fly. “It had better be good,” she wrote. “Like a jet pack from which you can communicate your Foursquare location (‘I’m Mayor of the Clouds!’). Or perhaps a chip you can implant in your head that will give you live updates of every single Apple (AAPL) iPad rumor.”
Of course, both of those were jokes. But that latter wish strikes at the heart of Cisco’s problem. Apple CEO Steve Jobs has overinflated tech expectations.
Cisco’s big event Tuesday wasn’t aimed at the millions of tech-blog readers out there. It catered to investors and the trade press. On that front, the company succeeded: Cisco stock climbed to a 52-week high Monday and continued rising after the big reveal.
But when reporters quoted Cisco’s promise of “a significant announcement that will forever change the Internet and its impact on consumers…” they hooked the wrong crowd. Apple and our live-blog culture have us thinking that press conferences are for us, the shoppers. And we, the consumers, want something to have and to hold – iPads or even Flip video cameras, which Cisco owns. The fact is that most people reading this will never notice when CRS-3s go online.
And that’s OK. In a way, Cisco has made a name for itself by being anonymous to 98 percent of Web users. It’s the plumber of the Internet – a thankless job, but one that we need to keep enjoying our iTunes stores and YouTube moments.
If you are Cisco’s target audience, here’s a video with more information on the CRS-3 routers.