Cisco chief executive John Chambers and Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer have held a joint webcast to reveal plans for closer collaboration between the two companies as they seek to offer consumers more compatible solutions between the products they offer.
The move towards working together follows more than a year of fierce rivalry between the two technology companies. Earlier this year, Cisco slammed Microsoft’s internet phone technology for being “years behind” its own.
Ballmer says Chambers initiated the discussion and he adds: “We talk about collaboration, and kind of e-commerce and Web 2.0. Well, that’s all great until you meet a customer.”
The companies say they recognise consumers will not buy their products unless they are interoperable. The companies add that they will work together on security, wireless telephony, network management and consumer video services.
But the announcement has been met with sceptism from industry observers. Jan Dawson, Ovum vice-president, US enterprise practice, says: “The tension between seeking competitive advantage through proprietary technology and establishing interoperability through open standards will remain, and both companies will
have to make tough decisions about where to draw the line between the two.”
Ballmer also sought to play down speculation Microsoft is set to buy Yahoo! saying the internet company would be an “expensive acquisition and that the two companies worked together already and would look at more ways to collaborate”.