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What Do SMB Wi-Fi Customers Really Want?

  • Posted: Tuesday, September 02, 2008
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  • Author: pradhana
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  • Filed under: Wi-Fi

When it comes to Wi-Fi, small-medium businesses defy generalization. Depending on their size, budgets, and the nature of their activities, SMBs reveal very different patterns of Wi-Fi adoption, deployments, upgrades, and attitudes to security. A survey of SMBs that are customers of the market-leading Wi-Fi vendor has identified their preferences and the logic behind the choices they make.

According to ABI Research vice president and research director Stan Schatt, “To understand the SMB Wi-Fi market as a whole, it’s instructive to examine the customers of the market-leading vendor, Cisco/Linksys. The combined installed-base market share of the two brands is 50%, so their customers are truly representative of the whole market.”

Prior to Cisco’s acquisition of Linksys, both companies offered WLAN equipment, although Cisco tended to serve the enterprise, and Linksys was more consumer-oriented. Post-acquisition, says Schatt, Cisco has done an excellent job of segmenting its SMB customers into Linksys- and Cisco-branded equipment purchasers.

Both groups are interested in migration to 802.11n, with 45% of Cisco and 41% of Linksys customers indicating definite plans to upgrade, and overwhelming majorities of these intending to act within the next 12 months.

However, a Linksys SMB customer is most likely to purchase Wi-Fi equipment from an online retailer or a bricks-and-mortar retailer. SMB customers of Cisco-branded Wi-Fi equipment are far more likely to purchase their equipment from a WLAN VAR or directly from the manufacturer.

Network security issues also show both similarities and differences between the groups. Says Schatt, “SMBs don’t have time or resources to manage security. A real opportunity exists for a managed WLAN security monitoring service. In fact, nearly half of those surveyed expressed an interest in such a service.” [ABI Research]

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