Cisco Boasts Strong Enterprise WLAN Market Share

Cisco talks up the latest enterprise WLAN market share reports, and shares that 802.11n interest and sales are even better than anticipated.

December 2, 2007

2 Min Read
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Possibly because Cisco stated in its Nov. 7 earnings call that "Wireless and Networked home growth were both relatively flat," its wireless business unit made a point of highlighting the numbers from two analyst firms suggesting a much more positive picture, at least in terms of market share. The Dell'Oro Group reported that Cisco's share of the enterprise WLAN market grew to 63%, while its closest competitors both held less than 10%.In the past two years, since it acquired and integrated Airespace into its enterprise WLAN product line, Cisco more than doubled its revenue market share for controllers. All these comparisons are carefully chosen, of course ???- revenue instead of units, and controllers are only a piece of the enterprise WLAN pie. That said, it's impressive that Cisco has continued to grow its market share despite the fierce competition. And in spite of the market share domination it already enjoys, Cisco still sees potential to expand it by developing and marketing vertically appropriate solutions. And, of course, 802.11n products also provide an upgrade opportunity for existing customers and greenfield sales for those who have been holding out.

The good news for Cisco's competitors is that the market as a whole continues to grow, so that even if their share decreases, they can still claim revenue growth. Aruba, for example, lost 3% of controller market share sequentially in the last quarter, according to Dell'Oro, but still gained almost 6% in overall product revenue.

In regard to 802.11n, Ben Gibson, Cisco's director of marketing for wireless and mobility, shared in a briefing that early bookings have been good and interest greater than expected. It's difficult to tease out how much of the satisfaction is an expected byproduct of Cisco's normally conservative estimates. According to Cisco, part of this interest is because customers are becoming educated in regard to 802.11n. They recognize the benefits: that it is backward compatible with "legacy" clients; that it doesn???t require swapping out their existing infrastructure; and that 802.11n clients and access points can be seamlessly added. Gibson also noted that customer prospects appreciated the investment protection of their modular access point. Cisco's competitors point out, of course, that there can be a significant cost savings going with a fully integrated access point, that customers tend not to change out their radio for a variety of reasons, and that with all the momentum behind 802.11 draft 2, it's unlikely that IEEE TGn will ratify a draft that's not at least backward compatible with the deployed product, if not identical at the PHY layer.

Cisco claimed that more than 30 higher-education accounts have purchased double-digit quantities of the 802.11n access point, and that it's seeing similar momentum in other verticals. These quantities clearly indicate that these are product evaluations and trials, but it's a sign of things to come. Cisco said that significantly sized and organizationally wide deployments will be happening early next year.

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