Here's a surprise. In the midst of a tidal wave of 802.11n product launches we hear that the fast wireless LAN standard is actually causing a downturn in Wi-Fi.
According to a press release, revenues in the enterprise WLAN segment went down 4 percent in the fourth quarter of 2007. That sounds a small dip, especially as the sector was up ten percent on the previous year's fourth quarter - but any setback in the WLAN market is significant, as it's supposed to be in fast growth mode, especially with the arrival of a new standard, 802.11n.
802.11n was supposed to stimulate new WLANs by persuading new installations, and to increase revenues by allowing vendors to keep their prices up, when kit would otherwise have been getting cheaper. Instead, it's done the opposite.
"The advent of 802.11n-class enterprise products caused enterprises to take more time in testing and evaluating the new equipment,” said Dell'Oro vice president Greg Collins. Meanwhile in homes and small offices, people haven't been willing to pay high prices for 802.11n (presumably because in the home situation, it doesn't actually give you very much more than a g router). Only 18 percent of SOHO routers sold in that quarter were 802.11n, possibly because they cost twice as much.
This may be short term - enterprise 802.11n kit may start to convince users, and prices may come down. There's another factor in here, says Collins - the downturn in the US economy.