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Linksys Next?

With Cisco reversing course and dumping its recently purchased Flip camcorder division earlier this week, can a similar move with its other consumer division, Linksys, be far behind?

My intuition sadly sees Linksys following the same path.

Linksys, which was bought by Cisco just over eight years ago for $500 million, was part of the enterprise business company’s attempt to grab some consumer market share and bring networking giant’s expertise into homes. And at the time the move made perfect sense. Large-scale broadband adoption was just starting to gather steam and home owners needed products to set up their own wireless networks. Cisco had grand plans for the Linksys brand and products were introduced to create networked entertainment centers for the home, most of which came to naught.

Today the vast majority of consumers sign up for Internet service through their cable or telco and are handed a shiny, new wireless router. The nice installation person arrives and your home network is up and running. Thus removing the largest stumbling block that has faced the router category, figuring out how the heck to get the darn thing to work. Something Linksys and the other router vendors have spent years and millions of dollars trying to explain to the average home owner, with only moderate success.

I recently sat down with several folks from Linksys when the division rolled out its latest products and asked if the situation mentioned above was a problem for their product category. They did admit this was so, but added their products could be used in conjunction with an ISP supplied router so they are viable and needed.

I nodded yes to their answer, but thought why would anyone bother? Does the average person know the difference between 802.11g and 11n? Do they care that the ISP’s router delivers the former and is somewhat behind the technological times?

The answer is no.

Cisco did not even make an attempt to sell off Flip, arguably one of the bigger consumer electronic success stories of the past few years, so I have a feeling it may do the same to Linksys.

Although I hope not, the good folks at Linksys deserve better than what happened to the 500-plus Flip staffers who lost their jobs.