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Synergy: Switches Sizzle

Synergy Research Group Inc. says worldwide sales of enterprise wireless LAN gear were worth $320.7 million in the third quarter of 2004, a jump of nearly 28 percent compared to last year.

Part of that bump was due to newfangled technology like wireless LAN switches and lightweight access points, which now represent a market of almost $62 million, the carrot, er, number crunchers at Synergy write in the firm's quarterly market share update.

No prizes for guessing that the big, bad daddy for overall enterprise sales is Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) with nearly 43 percent market share. Symbol Technologies Inc. (NYSE: SBL) maintains its silver spot with a 15.9 percent slice of the action.

But after these two old familiars, the enterprise market is starting to look somewhat more fluid. As some predicted, wireless LAN switch startup Airespace Inc. has grabbed third place from Proxim Corp. (Nasdaq: PROX) with a 5.7 percent share (see WLAN: Winners & Losers). Proxim is tied for fourth place with 3Com Corp. (Nasdaq: COMS); each company has a 4.4 percent piece of the corporate WiFi pie.

According to Synergy, Airespace made revenues of $18.2 million in the third quarter of 2004, a 50 percent jump compared to last quarter. The firm's closest switch startup rival Aruba Wireless Networks saw overall sales of $6.9 million, an increase of 44 percent compared to the previous quarter.

Overall, Symbol still heads up the switch and lightweight AP sector, with Airespace in a strong second and Aruba in third place.

The quarter's big loser looks to be Extreme Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: EXTR). The firm, which started shipping wireless APs and switches late in 2003, saw its overall wireless LAN revenues drop by 55 percent sequentially to $1.8 million in the third quarter of this year, according to Synergy.The company recently folded its wireless LAN unit back into its general networking business (see Extreme's Jain Drain).

— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Unstrung

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