Proxim turned over $69 million last year, has 250 employees and became a public company in 1993. It’s war chest is significant too, containing $10 million each from Motorola and Intel. Macworld met with Proxim’s Lynn Chroust, director of product marketing, to talk about the deal, what it means to Farallon and Macintosh users, and the future of networking.
Are you experienced? Chroust said: "We’ve been involved in wireless networking for 15 years. We launched our Symphony products for small offices and domestic users and got a great response from Macintosh users - who asked us to port our product to the Mac. We were inundated with letters."
Macs, said Chroust, are "hip and cool, our CEO and VP marketing have Macs on their desks". Proxim has been looking for a way into the Mac market for some time, and Farallon, with its expertise in the market offers Proxim the leverage it needs to get in there.
Chroust said of the future: "Farallon will become a wholly-owned independent business unit of Proxim. There will be no lay-offs, the majority of the folk’s from Farallon have chosen to stay with us.
"Over the next six months we will launch co-branded products. Initially we will release our Symphony range of products in the Mac market." And, she revealed, the prices of Mac-enabled Symphony products should be similar to their PC-counterparts.
Good all round Chroust insisted that Farallon, not just Proxim, will benefit from the deal. She claimed: "Farallon gets access to our distribution network - we have an excellent network. Farallon also gets access to educational VAR’s (Value Added Resellers). A closer relationship with Proxim will get Farallon’s products to market faster." Chroust also revealed the likelihood of additional investment in Farallon.
On networking Apple products, she said: "We can do networking better than Apple, besides the fact our software is easier to use, Apple focuses on networks built around a dial-up connection. We offer solutions for ADSL, ISDN, ethernet and more. We believe the small office and home network will be focused on broadband technologies." And Farallon’s SkyLINE product, she said, has "limited capability in terms of broadband".
Still to come,
Looking to future products from the two companies, she spoke about the importance of Home RF, a standard that supports both voice and data over a network. Home RF will reach 10MB-per-second voice and data rates next year. Following this, Chroust said Siemens would release a networkable, wireless handset, capable of piping voice calls over a Home RF network. She also said that broadband service providers will offer Home RF voice services in the future, as the protective walls around the telecommunications companies crumble.
Chroust also mentioned a future PCMIA card that Proxim may develop with Farallon. This will offer both existing wireless-networking capacity and Bluetooth connectivity.