Cisco decides it doesn’t want to be a consumer company after all

So much for John Chambers’ plan to turn Cisco into a consumer company.

The networking giant on Thursday announced plans to sell its Linksys division, which makes consumer-targeted WiFi routers and other networking equipment, to rival router maker Belkin. The two companies expect the deal to close in March.

The move marks only the latest effort by Cisco to back away from consumer products. Last year, the company ceased selling its Umi device, which allowed consumers to make video calls through their televisions, and the company has announced plans to shut down the Umi service later this month. And in 2011, the company shuttered its unit that made the popular Flip Video cameras after buying it just two years before.

Following the dot-com bust and the subsequent cratering of Cisco’s stock, Chambers led the company’s effort to expand beyond its traditional enterprise networking business to consumer markets. The company focused in particular on video, planning to link its networking, video calling and video recording products to take advantage of the growing viewership and use of video online.

Chambers touted the company’s consumer efforts in a series of appearances at the annual Consumer Electronics Show saying at his appearance in 2010 that “when Cisco moves into a market, we move into it to lead it.”

But that was then. Now, when it comes to consumer businesses, Cisco seems determined to stay away.

(Photo courtesy Bloomberg News.)


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