The convergence of data, voice, and eventually video networks does not mean more dominance for Wintel and internet providers, according to 3Com chief executive Eric Benhamou.
In the opening keynote address at Networld+Interop, Benhamou said great advances will come in merging these networks but will lead to different needs 'We are no longer dealing with dumb pipes. There is more intelligence and convergence.' He added: 'But it is not uniform - there is a need for simplicity and lower cost of ownership.'
Although he admitted Wintel PCs running NT will be a common platform for converged networks, there will be an increasing need for special devices and applications such as 3Com's own Palm series organiser, he pointed out. 'We should not take discomfort from that. Uniformity does not meet all requirements.'
According to Benhamou, the only hurdles in the way of convergence are poor education, insufficient funding and slow telecom reforms. The next generation of the internet will offer faster speed but needs simplicity and low cost. 'We must credit Europe for quickly opening its PTTs,' he said.
He apologised to Cisco Systems chief executive John Chambers, as he made a point of mentioning AT&T's network failure in March, which was blamed on Cisco routers. He used internet search results to 'prove networking is bigger than The Beatles' as 'people want to be connected to family, friends, work teams and hobbies'.
Meanwhile, Benhamou indicated that 3Com will sign another top 10 PC vendor to OEM its products. While he refused to be specific, observers pointed to HP or IBM.
He was not clear which type of product the deal will cover, but HP or IBM are most likely because many of the large PC vendors, including Acer, Compaq, Dell, Gateway 2000, Hitachi, Micron, Olivetti and Siemens Nixdorf, already have deals with 3Com.
He said the deal will help 3Com achieve its goal of supplying eight of the top 10 PC vendors. 'One major name in the top 10 will be added during this quarter,' he pledged.
Outlining 3Com's strategy and markets, he admitted it needed a leaner model to solve its costly channel inventory problems. He said the ramifications of the US Robotics acquisition are behind the company and it is on target to achieve its financial goals.
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