CES: Hey Linksys…it’s 2008!

In a day of accelerating Macintosh market share (Windows is still over 90% of the market…though declining) and where Internet-centric applications, communications and participatory social media make your device choice less relevant, I’m taken aback when a vendor the size of Linksys (owned by Cisco) announces a brand new, very affordable ($120 or $99 street price) stand-alone webcam that only supports Windows.

Linksys’ User Guide says this in the FAQ, “The Camera is designed for computers running a Windows operating system and Internet Explorer 5.5 or higher. You cannot view video on a Macintosh.

This lack of support is not what many people experience with, for example, their ISP (mine is Comcast) who often state, “Ahh…we don’t support the Macintosh” but it turns out they don’t because they don’t have that machine sitting in front of them to troubleshoot nor has the ISP’s customer service group created scripts for the clueless drones to read.

This is no exaggeration: Out of the 100 or so geeks and early adopters that I know, well over 90% of them use Macs. Most have RAM maxed out and are using Parallels to run Windows and Linux within a virtual container inside of Mac OS X (I do the same thing, though mostly for goofin’ around vs. serious geek work). Every company chases influencers — especially in a day where social media is exploding and people want guidance as complexity increases — so it’s really puzzling why Linksys would turn its back on influencers.

I’ve actually purchased two of this class of devices whose manufacturers are also clear “we only support Windows” but thought I’d try and been frustrated with my lack of hacking success and returned them to the store. If you’re more technical than I am (likely) give it a whirl with this new device since I’d love to buy one of these cheap devices. They come with a built-in web server which would make it a breeze to remotely monitor your home, cabin, as a nanny-cam or use for business monitoring.

Since so many other vendors actually understand that network-centric configurations and communications is easy to pull off regardless of platform (Windows, Mac or Linux), then why not offer it? With mobile networks increasing in speed, don’t you think people will want to access remote cams via their mobile phone’s built-in browser even if they’re on a Mac?

It’s 2008 Linksys/Cisco…get a clue please since YOU ARE A NETWORKING COMPANY and should know better. Mac users are not all a bunch of fanboys or non-technical soccer Moms and some of us even own other Linksys products (like wireless routers and so on).

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  1. david on January 28, 2008 at 10:34 am

    One reason I see for this is all Macs except the Pro come with a built in cam. (And don’t forget it is pretty dang easy to use a digital video camera as a webcam on the Mac). Little incentive for developer to spend the time if their market is only those with older machines. To be honest, do you think they even realize Apple sells a Mac without a camera.

    It still bothers me that Apple discontinued with iSight. I’m a teacher and we still have older non-camera Macs in our schools.

  2. Steve Borsch on January 28, 2008 at 10:42 am

    @david: Actually, this isn’t a webcam for a computer — it’s a stand-alone wireless webcam that you could, for example, place somewhere (like pointing it out the window to watch your yard or using to keep tabs on a nanny inside the house), plug it in the wall for power, and access from a computer anywhere on the internet if you have the password.

    This piece really breaks a new quality/price point which intrigued me until I found out it doesn’t work with Mac’s.

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Podcasting hit the mainstream in July of 2005 when Apple added podcast show support within iTunes. I'd seen this coming so started podcasting in May of 2005 and kept going until August of 2007. Unfortunately was never 'discovered' by national broadcasters, but made a delightfully large number of connections with people all over the world because of these shows. Click here to view the archive of my podcast posts.