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Cisco Dropping Linksys Brand from New Routers

Wed, 03/31/2010 - 8:11am
Peter Svensson, AP Technology Writer

NEW YORK (AP) — Cisco Systems Inc. is trying to remove the techspeak from home Wi-Fi routers and make the equipment easier to install and set up.

It's introducing a new brand in consumer routers: "Cisco Valet." It will be the first time it sells consumer routers without the Linksys brand, which it acquired in 2003. However, it's keeping the Linksys brand for more techie-oriented routers.

"This is very much a reflection of Cisco's goal of becoming a household brand," said Scott Kabat, director of marketing at Cisco Consumer Products.

The focus on ease of setup is intended to address common frustrations about Wi-Fi routers. Some retailers report that one in four routers are returned because buyers can't set them up, Kabat said.

"It's not a good consumer experience today," he said.

Cisco decided to tap the know-how of engineers from PureDigital, the maker of the Flip camcorders, which Cisco acquired last year. PureDigital came from nowhere to sell millions of camcorders because made it easy to shoot and share the footage online.

"Valet is to wireless what Flip is to home video," said Kabat, who led brand marketing at PureDigital.

Valet will come in two versions, one for $100 and another, with longer wireless range, for $150. That's more than the equivalent new Linksys routers, which start at $79. But rather than having standard setup CDs, each Valet will come with a USB flash drive that buyers insert into their computers. The drive configures each computer to use the Wi-Fi hot spot, cutting the steps required to set up Wi-Fi.

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