Cisco Copies Microsoft by Rebranding Spark as Webex Teams
by Jim Lundy
At some point recently, Cisco blinked. Cisco Spark, launched only three years ago, is being dumped. Cisco is doubling down on the Webex brand and the Cisco Spark mobile messaging service will be rebranded as Webex Teams.
One could argue that Cisco just copied Microsoft, which is true. This blog highlights the rebranding and the war that Cisco is waging on multiple fronts involving voice, messaging, and meetings.
Webex Teams = Microsoft Teams
For better or worse, Cisco went with the name “Teams” for its mobile collaboration app. This happens to be the same name that Microsoft is using (Microsoft Teams) for the new service it launched in 2017.
To be fair, rebranding is the trend in messaging. For instant messaging and mobile messaging, Microsoft has had Lync, Skype, and now Teams. The rebranding to Teams was an attempt to slow down best-of-breed competitor, Slack.
Battle of the Teams
Cisco is introducing its brand on Webex, which is a smart move. Shifting the name from Spark to Teams is a little weak; we think Cisco could have done better. Now the banter will be about which Teams app you are using. However, the worst move one can make in marketing is to confuse customers. Cisco will have to explain why it is using the same name that Microsoft went with.
Webex Not Slowing Down Zoom
Webex is a storied brand that became somewhat of a stepchild during the three-year Spark era. With this move, Webex steps back into the limelight and becomes the dominant collaboration brand for Cisco.
Besides Microsoft, Cisco is fighting a battle on multiple fronts. The biggest battle in the meeting front is with Zoom, the San Jose startup that is winning new accounts at a record pace. Zoom is running the same playbook that helped Webex grow over the years. Buyers will come for a well-built product with strong sales practices. For Zoom, customers certainly are taking notice.
Resolving the Integration Issue
I’m writing this post from the Cisco Collaboration Summit in Phoenix, AZ, and had the chance to talk to several major customers this morning. I asked some of them what they thought of the news. Most had not heard, but when I told them, they seemed fine with the change. Most notably, these customers mentioned that they have been waiting for the integration of Webex Teams (formerly Spark) and Cisco Jabber. One even said that at a recent top customer event, Cisco was asked about this overlap and didn’t provide an answer. Hopefully today, Cisco will put this issue to bed.
More news will definitely be shared at the Collaboration Summit. One of the backstory discussions, however, will be the fact that they copied Microsoft on naming.