Bay Networks has leapt into the retail market, with its range of low-end NetGear products to be sold initially through Harvey Norman.
Intended for networks with less than 50 users, the NetGear range includes hubs and adaptor cards designed for ease of use, economical pricing, a choice of expansion options and superior technical support.
The NetGear range will form part of Harvey Norman's new networking sections, which are being rolled out in its superstores now. The Bay Networks products will join those from Intel and SMC and, later, other major vendors including Cisco.
"It's a bit of a transition for us," said Harvey Norman's communications coordinator Tim Edwards. "We feel networking is, like the Internet, one area which is very much going to pick up in the next six months, but it's one that we want to do right. Networking is a little more confusing for the customers." Hence, Edwards says Harvey Norman is being careful in both the products it selects and the way they are presented to the public.
Bay Networks' national channel manager, Martin Christmas, says the retail operation through Harvey Norman will soon be complemented by general availability though the reseller channel. "What we will do with NetGear is go to some form of broad-based distribution early in the new year. That will take the product to small- or medium-sized resellers, who ordinarily may not buy Bay products because they would consider them to be enterprise level. So NetGear is an obvious choice for them - it really is a broad-based distribution product in every sense of the word."
Christmas estimates the reseller margin for the NetGear products will be in the vicinity of 35 per cent.
Products going into Harvey Norman will be distributed via Express Data, due to its prior relationships with companies such as Netscape, Christmas said. He added that a decision on a distributor for the broader reseller market has not been made. "We will look to work with a distributor who will give us access to that end of the channel market that perhaps traditionally we haven't had access to," he said.
The initial range of NetGear products (with tax inclusive pricing) are the EN100 series 10Base-T hubs, available in four-port ($213) and eight-port ($312) configurations, and an Ethernet adaptor card ($225).