Cisco is the undisputed king of networking gear, but its hold on the market may be slipping, according to recent analyst reports. What does that mean for Cisco’s aspirations to network the grid, a market where it’s a challenger rather than a champion? Earlier this month, Cisco announced a 7 percent drop in switching revenues for the most recent quarter, and reports indicate Cisco’s loss has been the gain of competitors such as HP and Juniper Networks. As for Cisco’s fledgling line of hardened networking gear for power grid substations and distribution networks, it’s being challenged by Juniper there as well, but both will have to contend with entrenched players in the industrial networking world. Those include RuggedCom, which has about half the smart grid networking market in North America and partnerships with Siemens and Itron, and China’s Kyland, which is in good position to capitalize on that country’s massive smart grid deployment plans. Cisco has been pretty quiet so far about where it’s deploying its smart grid networking gear and in what volumes. It will be interesting to see if the would-be smart grid giant will disclose more details on just how deeply it’s breaking into this emerging market.