Fragmentation nixed a Cisco-Android network partnership

Cisco has a partnership that makes Apple devices work better, but it tried Android first

Cisco Systems tried to give Android devices the same kinds of integration it later provided for iPhones and iPads but gave up because the Android ecosystem was too fragmented.

A Cisco-Apple partnership announced in 2015 gives iOS devices capabilities that other wireless clients don’t have on Cisco-based enterprise networks. Among other things, enterprises can designate work-related applications like videoconferencing for priority on the wireless link between iOS devices and a Wi-Fi access point.

The partnership will also make it a little easier for Apple fans to work with the Spark Board all-in-one meeting device that Cisco announced on Tuesday.

Android doesn’t have those advantages. It’s not that Android devices don’t work at all with Cisco networks or the Spark Board: Most Spark Board interactions are possible on Android through things like public APIs. But things might have gone a different way.

“We started with Android,” said Rowan Trollope, Cisco’s senior vice president of IoT and applications, in a press briefing after Tuesday’s launch.

When Trollope and Cisco collaboration guru Jonathan Rosenberg went to Google to propose ways to help Android devices work better on Cisco networks, the company was enthusiastic, he said. But because so many players, including carriers and phone manufacturers, can craft their own variations on Android, Google couldn’t hash out integrations with Cisco on its own, Trollope said.

“We like your ideas,” he recalled Google saying. “Go talk to Samsung and HTC and, oh yes, you have to go to Verizon, too.”

Some Android users decry the modifications that device companies and carriers make to Google’s open-source OS, which they say can hobble important features. In addition, vendors and service providers usually upgrade users' phones to the next release of Android only after long delays, or don’t offer upgrades at all. Apple fully controls iOS and offers new releases to all users at the same time, though older devices can’t necessarily run the latest version.

Cisco did approach Samsung, the biggest manufacturer of Android products, but that still left a lot more vendors to deal with. “One by one by one,” Trollope said. “We don’t have the resources to do that.”

Mobile operators might not even want to give their versions of Android all the capabilities that Apple developed with Cisco, he added. For example, the Cisco-Apple integration helps enterprises shift voice calls from the carrier network to a wireless LAN without losing things like call logging for compliance.

“It’s not necessarily in the operator’s best interest,” Trollope said. “Apple can do it, and Apple did do it.”

Google did not respond to a request for comment. A Samsung representative declined to comment.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Stephen Lawson

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Cool Tech

SanDisk MicroSDXC™ for Nintendo® Switch™

Learn more >

Breitling Superocean Heritage Chronographe 44

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Panasonic 4K UHD Blu-Ray Player and Full HD Recorder with Netflix - UBT1GL-K

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Razer DeathAdder Expert Ergonomic Gaming Mouse

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?