I interviewed Justin Doucette, Director of Product Management, Consumer Networking, and Greg Morrison, General Manager ANZ for Belkin
Doucette is from head office in California. He has seen what the merger brings to the new company. “The company’s focus was mass market, well-made, consumer products. That has evolved to include the connected family, and a much stronger networking offering – although Belkin has always produced routers, switches, Powerline (Ethernet over Power), and range extenders,” he said.
“The problem is that most knew Belkin as accessories and less as a networking company. The Linksys acquisition allows it to offer product from the consumer, to the prosumer, to the Small to Medium Enterprise market, and importantly the Internet of Things,” he added.
“We are going to expand our product line even further – wait for CES 2016,” he said.
Morrison said that Linksys had languished in its 10 years at Cisco – perhaps not intentionally as it was laser focused on enterprise - different appeals are used in the consumer space. Cisco also changed the distinctive Linksys look to a more corporate look. A once great brand that commanded the highest market share saw its position relegated to number four behind D-Link, Netgear, and TP-Link.
“We have kept the Linksys name and returned to making really great products that have the Linksys signature,” he added.
The new product range, largely launched from May to October has been divided into consumer and business lines.
Consumers get a range of leading edge routers at price points from A$249 to $429 including the AC1200 and 1900 dual band, the AC3200 Tri-band, the AC2600 Max-stream, Multi-user (MU) multiple input, multiple output (MIMO), and an AC1200 range dual band range extender.
“We were first to market with our ‘screamer’ AC2600 EA8500 uses the new Qualcomm technologies for the growing connected home. Many homes now have several computers, tablets, smart phones, security cameras, music and movie streaming, local cloud storage, gaming consoles, media servers, and voice over Wi-Fi and the list is growing. This router handles all that and more – it is time to trade-up,” said Doucette.
I tested one via a 100Mbps Telstra cable gateway and it achieved nearly 100Mbps (in the same room). Its real strength was in longer distances where AC1200 and 1900 dual band routers simply don’t have the signal range or strength – more on that in a separate review.
Then there is Belkin’s smart phone and motion controlled WEMO technology. It is for the Internet of Things (IoT) to connect door bells, door locks, thermostats, heaters, lighting controls, fridges and maybe toasters. “If you can plug it in [to a power point] you can control it with WEMO and say, a AC2600 router.
Business gets enterprise AC1200/1750 access points with features like power over Ethernet (PoE), security and guest networks; VPN single and dual WAN, load balancing, gigabit access points; 8 port to 52 port unmanaged, smart and managed and PoE switches; PoE injectors and SFP modules; and enterprise grade IP camera and network video recorders. Yes, that has been influenced by its Cisco heritage.
Belkin has an interesting slant on marketing to drive sales – educate its resellers JB Hi-Fi, Harvey Norman, and the Good Guys, and its reseller channel is driven through Ingram Micro, Synnex, and Dicker Data who sell to partners. “The biggest part of penetrating the market now, is through education,” said Doucette.
It is a given that Belkin will always do well with its retail products. It is a good company with a slick retail operation. WEMO has been slow to take off due to a lack of consumer education in IoT but that will come.
It has met the challenge of reinvigorating what was one a coveted brand in Linksys. The new consumer range, especially its Qualcomm based AC2600 is brilliant. Its time to place Linksys on teh shopping list.
I enjoyed the open and frank conversation and am confident it will gain significant market share.