PREVIOUSLY: Netgear's approach to SMB networking
Today, Ian Yates chats to D-Link about the threat of big business and the SMB networking market.
IY: Are Cisco as big and scary as they sound?
Maurice Famularo (MF): People are generally scared of Cisco I believe but I don't think D-Link is really scared of Cisco at all. I think the SMB market, for D-Link in particular, is growing quite considerably because of our level of focus in that market. I think Cisco's bold challenge in the market to gain a dominant position is probably going to be short lived with a lot of people also wondering what is happening with Linksys. Is that going to be the SMB brand in the future? But pricing is certainly going to be a big influence in this market.
IY: I think perhaps they are a bit more familiar with the idea of small business in America. Perhaps they don't understand that locally small businesses are very small?
MF: Yes that is probably very true in our local market. I don't think that Cisco is going to make much of a bold move in that area. There are too many strong vendors that already have a strong foothold in that SMB market that have been very successful. For example D-Link has been very successful in the consumer market and we are also quite successful in the SMB market. Very similarly with Netgear who are quite strong in both the same markets as we are in. Probably the only advantage that Cisco may have is a lot more staff and a lot more resources behind them but I still think that because they are not quite autonomous enough in Australia they are probably dictated by some people in the US who may be a little bit blinkered with the local market over here - hence the fact that we are seeing this sort of attitude by Cisco in the past. I guess you put your money where your mouth is and see what happens in the future.
IY: Yes and it is interesting because Cisco have had quite a lot of success with their own Linksys small business and home market specialty brand.
MF: But they had to get that specialty by buying a competitor. They had to buy Linksys and then they ran it for a while and now they are going to wind it up.
IY: Do you think that will happen? They said that oh no, we will keep Linksys for the home user. Do you think they will actually become Cisco junior?
MF: I think eventually it will be. It is inevitable that they will end up doing something similar to that. A lot of the IT companies diversify quite a bit. You get computer companies and PC manufacturers that will want to specialise in networking or wireless and then when the going gets tough and business gets a little bit difficult or when the business is mismanaged then they start cutting costs and one of the first things to go is anything that is not core competency within the company. I don't think they really understand the SMB market like some of the other vendors do.
IY: Yes it will be interesting to see. But as you say, let them have a go, competition is always fun?
MF: Yes it is always fun, just as long as they are fair and honest about the competition. I think Cisco has a place in the SMB market personally. How big is that percentage market share? I don't know.
IY: I had it put to me that perhaps their real place in the small business sector is to be a provider of small business branch routers to enterprises. Rather than a total small business solution they might do that small branch office instead of having to put a giant blade router out there, you can now put one of their nice little boxes.
MF: Exactly. And also the service and support even though the price might be relatively cost competitive out there, it is also the back up sales and support that they provide that can be quite expensive for some SMB users. Cisco has a very good reputation as a name.
IY: One thing Cisco has never been really picked on for is their support as it has always stood out.
MF: That's right. Interesting to see what happens.