Open Mobile Summit: Are apps for enterprise the future?

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Cisco hopes the answer is yes. Just a few days ahead of its much-anticipated earnings report, Cisco wooed developers Friday at Appcelerate, day three of the Open Mobile Summit conference in San Francisco.

Cisco launched AppHQ a few months ago as a white-label app store service for enterprises, designed for its Cuis tablet computer but compatible with other devices made by other manufacturers. Cius is an Android 2.2 device, and AppHQ allows apps to be used on non-Cisco Android devices, which should encourage app developers who might otherwise be put off by further fragmentation in the market. With 33 million customers, Cisco must feel that it has a big enough base to sell its devices.

Speaking to developers at the conference, Cisco stated that it already has more than 200,000 apps available for its customers to choose from but is looking to develop specific apps targeting key vertical markets such as health care, education and finance. These apps will typically be more complex and therefore more expensive than the average consumer app. With a 30%-70% Cisco/developer split and all subscription revenue going to the developer, Cisco is clearly not looking to profit from apps but from selling devices.

According to Praveen Narra, CEO and founder of app developer Indyzen, “a lot of money has been made from consumer and entertainment apps, but not in enterprise. This opportunity has not really been explored and there is huge potential there, especially when it comes to targeting specific vertical markets.”

At $650, the Cius tablet is expensive. The docking station costs an additional $200. The device can be connected to a monitor and mouse allowing it replace the work laptop or desktop computer. The question is whether people want a more expensive device than the iPad, already popular in the workplace.

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