Macworld: iPhone Gets Cisco FMC

Want an object lesson in how broadband wireless can supercharge new opportunities even in a down economy? Witness the launch of the free Cisco Systems Inc. WebEx Meeting Center application at the Apple App Store. It’s one of the more interesting releases in what has so far been a rather ho-hum week at the Macworld show.

Users can use their iPhones to actively collaborate in Web meetings by viewing what’s being shared, seeing the meeting participant list, seeing the active speaker and chatting with other meeting participants. Users can also seamlessly move in-session Web and audio conferences from an iPhone 3G to a Mac and Cisco Unified IP Phone, and vice versa. To nutshell it, it’s kind of a productivity extravaganza.

More importantly, it demonstrates the benefit mobility brings to such collaboration applications. Fixed-mobile convergence has been somewhat of an unwieldy beast for corporations to implement, requiring on-premise deployments of hardware and software. By taking an application like this and putting it in the cloud, which was Cisco’s goal when it relaunched WebEx as a Web 2.0 development juggernaut last fall, you add the ability to pull it down to existing connected devices. In this case, that includes the iPhone.

It works with 3G mobile and Wi-Fi, and supports all kinds of voice options: SaaS-based telephony from Cisco WebEx Meeting Center, premises-based telephony from Cisco Unified MeetingPlace, or telephony from Cisco’s service provider partners. They do say a rising tide lifts all boats.

This is one of the few enterprise mobility nods out of Macworld, the other being the announcement of the “Keynote Remote” app, on sale for 99 cents at the Apple App Store, which enables an iPhone or iPod touch to control Keynote presentations, part of the iWork ’09 software update.

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