Cisco kills Umi, its US Skype alternative

Although there's no official confirmation at present, Cisco has killed off its Umi consumer video conferencing system, and has withdrawn from taking on Skype head-to-head.

The 1080p TV top chat set-up has been withdrawn from sale and, with it, the last vestiges of the company's plans to make inroads in the consumer marketplace. First the Flip camera was exterminated, now Umi.

Released at the tail-end of 2010, it is believed that the reason for slow take-up of Umi lay in its US pricing structure. The box, a camera and a controller cost the mighty sum of $600, while a lower-cost 720p version was still $400, with a monthly service fee of $10. In comparison, Skype is free to use, and can be used with a vast array of devices, from TVs to phones to PCs.

The Umi service will remain in operation for existing customers, but it will no longer be possible to buy the kit: "[Cisco has] decided to no longer sell Cisco Umi hardware as a consumer offering," a spokesperson confirmed.

"While we are ending the sale of Umi, the Umi service remains unchanged. Existing customers will continue to be able to use the service to make calls to other Umi subscribers or to Google video chat accounts."