Changes in the way WLANs are thought of and deployed in businesses might make this year the best yet for Wi-FI, but there's little denying when you look at the numbers for the year 2002 that it was the best wireless LANs have seen yet.
In-Stat senior analyst Gemma Paulo, says that while the year 2002 saw the shipment of many new technologies for WLANs -- including 802.11a products, dual-mode products, and the first draft-only 802.11g products -- the lower-end, SOHO vendors "shipped loads of 802.11b products, both to small business and homes, as well as into small departments and offices of larger businesses."
She calls the volumes shipped by vendors like Linksys, D-Link, Buffalo Technology, and Netgear "staggering."
Overall, Phoenix, AZ-based Synergy Research Group's Fourth Quarter 2002 Wireless LAN Equipment market shares report concurs. According to Synergy's final numbers (both In-Stat and Synergy gather data via surveys done every quarter with WLAN equipment manufacturers), overall vendors shipped over 15.8 million Wi-Fi devices in 2002, to the tune of $1.8 billion. That's up from $1.4 billion in 2001, and $577 million in 200.
Specific companies doing well in enterprise product sales include the every
present Cisco Systems
with 31.5%, followed by Symbol Technologies
, and Proxim Corporation (8.9%)
increased their revenue market share from the previous year by a minimum of
The biggest loss in revenue market share went to Agere Systems, which flew from its high of 24.2% of the market in Q1 '02 to 3.5% in Q4 -- no surprise since they sold off their ORiNOCO equipment business to Proxim. Proxim captured 11.3% of the revenue market share for Q4, and a total of 8.9% for the whole year (up from 5.4% in 2001).
D-Link and Netgear's gains were Buffalo's loss, as its 18.1% of the 2002 market
was a drop from the 23.7% it commanded in 2001 -- so much for getting the draft-standard
802.11g products out early. Other
In the world of Voice over WLAN phones, where Spectralink
compete alone, Spectralink retains the lead with 68.8% of the revenue market
share for the year. They even sold 32.7% more units than in 2001, but still
took a 5% loss in overall revenue from 2001 to 2002. Phones must be getting
cheaper along with everything else.
As for 2003, Paulo says the industry is likely looking at "a change in how large scale enterprise's structure their access point layout." The day of the access point that has all the smarts on board may be numbered as companies like Symbol and Aruba Networks move toward managed, "dumb or light access points being controlled by wireless switches." Just what defines a wireless switch is in question too by companies like Vivato, which will be shipping its own "wireless switch" which used a phased array antenna to provide wireless coverage to a whole building with a single product.
"[It] should be a real change in the market this year," says Paulo. "For the length of time 11b has been out, people have been working on access points the way the are, to get them to perform well, just getting the radio good enough...now they're looking at new ways to put them in the enterprise."