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Cisco Spark the new name for Project Squared collaboration app

Cisco has given a new name to Project Squared. The cloud-based collaboration app is now Cisco Spark and will cost as much as $25 per user per month, the company said at Enterprise Connect.

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ORLANDO, Fla. -- Cisco has chosen Cisco Spark as the product name for Project Squared, a cloud-based collaboration...

app launched in beta in November, and said pricing would run as much as $25 per user per month.

The networking company announced the renaming this week during its keynote at Enterprise Connect, where Cisco also introduced a contact center feature called Context Service and a two-screen version of the MX800 telepresence system.

Cisco Spark provides unlimited and secure virtual rooms for ad hoc team collaboration. The service is accessed through a mobile app available on Google Play or the Apple App Store. A Windows desktop app is also available.

The virtual rooms let teams work together through a combination of messaging, file sharing, screen sharing and video conferencing, Ross Daniels, Cisco's director of product marketing, said. Users can integrate the service with their mobile contacts for communicating with people outside of an organization. The latter can access the service through a browser plug-in, unless they are using Firefox, which doesn't require the add-on.

Cisco Spark is helping the vendor make good on its promise at last year's Enterprise Connect to keep collaboration simple, said Rowan Trollope, senior vice president and general manager of Cisco Collaboration.

A freemium version of Cisco Spark is available, along with two subscription options. The free version provides access to messaging, file sharing, video calling and screen sharing with up to three participants. It also includes mobile calendar and contacts integration, online self-service and content encryption.

For $13 per user per month, subscribers get the same features as in the free version, along with single sign-on, live support and the option for moderators to launch private rooms. The $25 per user per month subscription supports meetings of up to 25 users and provides access to Cisco's WebEx Meeting Center or WebEx Enterprise Edition, Daniels said.

Cisco Spark is available now exclusively through Cisco channel partners.

Tools for the conference room, contact center

Context Service is a new feature that works with Cisco contact center products. The cloud-based service lets a call center agent see the channels a customer used before reaching out to an agent. For example, a customer may have browsed the website or tweeted the company for help.

"Omnichannel communication is happening, but the problem is that most contact centers don't have a way to provide context from one channel to another," Daniels said. "This feature brings that information together."

Available in June, Context Service will work with existing on-premises or cloud-based Cisco contact center products. The service can also work with Cisco's SocialMiner tool for social media monitoring.

Cisco also introduced the Telepresence MX800 Dual, a two-screen version of the MX800 system. The latest model has two 70-inch screens and dual cameras for speaker tracking. It also lets people share content wirelessly from a Mac or PC on one screen while using the other for conferencing.

Available later this year, the MX800 Dual will have a list price of $80,000.

Cisco's telepresence sales have risen 60% over the last year, according to Trollope. However, the overall market remains weak. In 2014, global revenue fell almost 7% year to year, the third consecutive yearly decrease, according to IDC.

Let us know what you think about the story; email Gina Narcisi, senior news writer, and follow @GeeNarcisi on Twitter. 

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Would you pay as much as $25 per user per month for Cisco Spark?
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I do prefer Pexip over Cisco, in any case. Those guys were the ones who invented the "telepresence movement" a few years ago, and are the ones who are pushing the envelope in terms of integration. 

What Cisco can make now, Pexip has been doing it for three years now, and now the Infinity is abling also IM and streaming. 

I believe that eventually the Spark is going to ignite, but the know-how that Pexip does have right now is too much to bear for Cisco.

PS: I used "eventually" because the difference in sizes between each one are substantial, and Cisco as the powerhouse that it is, is going to make Spark happen anyway.
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Interesting that Cisco are moving more into collaboration space with Spark, but I cannot see anything worth the $25/mth over say, Google HangOut, Docs etc.?
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