2005 Hits & Misses

Trying to keep ahead of the wireless technology market in 2005, Unstrung editors and readers both managed to successfully predict some of the biggest developments in 2005, from WiMax to the shakeout of the enterprise wireless LAN industry. So, we can forgive ourselves the odd misstep, too, right?

Here's the scorecard:

WiMax: Unstrung's editors and readers alike were broadly realistic about the prospects for this "revolutionary" metro-area networking tech in 2005.

It became obvious fairly early in the year that, with testing deadlines slipping faster than a wig in a windtunnel, 2005 was largely going to be a year of marketing over substance. (See Wise Words on WiMax.)

Last January, just 45 percent of readers believed that 802.16 technology would "emerge as a credible wireless replacement for DSL/cable" this year, while 49 percent claimed WiMax will "splutter onto the market with minimal impact." (See WiMax: Keep the Faith.)

We didn't always share our readers' healthy skepticism. An Unstrung report from the same month, by contrast, led with the statement:

"2005 will probably be the year in which WiMax sinks or swims as the next big thing in telecom technology." (See WiMax Guide.)

Well, it hasn't sunk yet, anyway.

Metro-Mesh: The unwiring of public spaces using WiFi mesh technology was a promising development in 2005, and an expanding market for startups and major networking companies alike.

Back in March, Unstrung predicted that Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) would get into this market; by November this had come to pass. (See Gorillas in the Mesh and Cisco Gets Meshy.)

Readers, meanwhile, were again more divided on the applications for mesh, with only 35 percent voting last March that the market would be driven by citywide mesh deployments. (See The Wireless Mesh.) Enterprise WLAN: It didn't take a genius to figure that Cisco's acquisition of Airespace would mean some major changes for this market. Unstrung noted well in advance that the buyout would force the industry to start moving quickly toward standardizing the way that network controllers "talk" to wireless LAN access points. (See The Switch Fix Is In and The LWAPP Comeback.) M&A: Okay, so Juniper Networks Inc. (NYSE: JNPR) didn't buy a WLAN infrastructure startup, after all. (See Sources: Juniper Eyeing Trapeze.) Not. But we're still so convinced that it will happen that we're sticking with this prediction for 2006. It's all about timing.

Still, we managed to plot Proxim Wireless Corp. 's downfall and subsequent acquisition way before it became common knowledge. (See Proxim Has a Debt Dilemma , Proxim on the Ropes, Proxim Faces D-Day, Proxim Sells Assets for $21M, and Terabeam Grabs Proxim's Assets.)

Mystery of the Year: It was widely believed among industry insiders that one of the main reasons that Cisco bought enterprise WiFi switch startup Airespace in January 2005 was because the latter was the front-runner to win the massive Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) campus contract. (See Cisco Buys Airespace.)

But startup Aruba Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: ARUN) grabbed the contract in June. (See Aruba Wins Microsoft Deal.) But that's what you get when you listen to insiders...

— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Unstrung

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