Cisco's WLAN Stranglehold
The market as a whole was worth $333.9 million in the first quarter of this year. That's up 13 percent year-on-year but down 2 percent compared to the last quarter of 2005.
Cisco looms large over the wireless "LANscape" with a market share of 57.7 percent -- up 11 percent on the previous quarter. Symbol Technologies Inc. (NYSE: SBL) was a distant second with a 10.3 percent share, but its sales dropped by 32 percent compared to the last three months of 2005. Leading startup Aruba Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: ARUN) took the bronze with a 5.7 percent share, which represents a moderate growth of 4 percent quarter-on-quarter but is nothing like the huge sales spurts the company achieved in the middle of last year. (See WLAN Sales Back on the Climb.)
"That point is amplified by the timing of things," Synergy analyst Aaron Vance tells Unstrung. "Q1 is typically a soft quarter, but Cisco had robust sales while others felt the seasonal chill."
Vance says the Airespace wireless LAN switch gear was a bigger part of the mix for Cisco this quarter. "Their salespeople have gotten comfortable with the product line," he reckons.
In fact, even though the overall enterprise market was down slightly, Vance found that switch and thin access point shipments were up for the quarter. They accounted for nearly $119 million in enterprise sales for the quarter, which is a jump of 16 percent compared to the last quarter. "The market is still transitioning," he says.
Also changing is the market for consumer-oriented products such as home WiFi routers, which totaled $547.2 million in the first quarter. Faster WiFi products using MIMO or pre-802.11n specifications are beginning to hit the market. "We saw that at the tail-end of the quarter. Q2 is where it should really start to show."
Not yet clear is whether these faster WiFi products, which offer data transfers at over 100 Mbit/s, will also start to make a showing in the enterprise space over the next few quarters. Vendors like Bluesocket Inc. are only now starting to introduce products based on the multi-antenna technology. (See Bluesocket's Performance Play.)
— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Unstrung