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Optical Web Sites: Surfing Update

Optical networking's about speeding up communications. Too bad some vendors' Websites do the opposite

December 29, 2000

3 Min Read
Optical Web Sites: Surfing Update

Last March, Light Reading took various optical networking vendors to task for their woeful Websites (see Startup Web Sites: Unhappy Surfing?). A lot's happened since then -- the optical market's grown exponentially larger, for one thing. Unfortunately, Website problems have proliferated too.

Many vendors, especially startups, still think viewing a short movie is a necessary prerequisite to entering the site. Calient Networks, Cogent Communications Inc., Ellacoya Networks Inc., Jasmine Networks, Luminous Networks Inc., and Netrake Corp., to name just a few, feature elaborate intros complete with flashing lights, strange sounds, zeroes and ones floating in space, and bristling bundles of multistrand fiber.

Thankfully, the "skip intro" button eliminates all this. The question is, why put the movie there in the first place? Prospective customers, investors, and would-be business partners are an impatient bunch, eager to get the next deal done. Do vendors like Ellacoya and Jasmine really think these folks will load in a Flash plug-in for some extra graphics?

At the other extreme are sites with no flash at all. JDS Uniphase Inc. (Nasdaq: JDSU) -- certainly a leading light in optical networking -- has one of the industry's dimmest sites. Dull, slow-loading graphics accompany tiny type in unreadable colors. (Try deciphering the scrolling white-on-ochre news at the homepage.) JDSU could take a lesson from archrival Corning Inc. (NYSE: GLW), whose site is as inviting as JDSU's is off-putting.

In JDSU's case, the poor quality of its Website is probably just due to poor marketing. For other vendors, particularly stealth-mode startups, a drab site may be a deliberate attempt to foil would-be competitors. Cereva Networks Inc., for instance, says it kept its initial Website simple and information-free in order to "make sure our competitors didn't take us too seriously" (see Startups Ready Big SAN Switches). Fortunately, as it grew large enough to attract customers, the vendor cleaned up its online act.

One startup who still needs a revamp is Timetra, whose site seems to exist chiefly to attract job candidates. Don't browse here if you're tired. You may fall for their pitch on "WDM over IP." (It's a joke. Geddit? No, neither did we).

Some stealth startups take the opposite approach: Check out the site for Simulant Inc., a maker of waveguide design software (see Simulant Inc.). It's packed with information, including a timeline history of the startup (still in seed mode). Also included are photos of the young principals -- looking like they were snapped at the mall, or a kegger.

Sometimes companies are more selective, making information available only to certain visitors. Tellium Inc., for instance, includes plenty of info on its products and location. But clicking on "News" brings up an email form for a press kit -- with more than ten fields to fill in -- all but one of them mandatory! A showstopper for reporters on deadline.

As ever, we welcome your input. What do you think are the best and worst sites in optical networking? Click on the discussion button below to let us know your thoughts.

-- Mary Jander, senior editor, Light Reading http://www.lightreading.com

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