A few weeks ago, I wrote about how Apple killing Xserve was the first step in its plan to dominate the company. Outside of the retired Xserve, they have not had any other enterprise network product servers, however, they have never had an enterprise network product. You may be interested to know that a former Apple employee founded a company that currently sells business networking equipment. Robert Pera, founder of Ubiquiti, worked for Apple in the early 2000s as a Wi-Fi engineer.
About Apple @ Work: Bradley Chambers has managed an enterprise IT network since 2009. Through his experience in implementing and managing firewalls, switches, a mobile device management system, enterprise-grade Wi-Fi, hundreds of Macs and hundreds of iPads, Bradley to Highlight Ways Apple IT Managers Deploy Apple Devices, Create Networks to Support Them, Train Users, Stories from the Trenches of IT Management, and Ways Apple Could Improve Its Products for IT Departments .
While at Apple, Robert tested Wi-Fi-based products to make sure they met the Federal Communications Commission’s standards for electromagnetic emissions. Pera discovered that the energy sources that Apple’s Wi-Fi devices used to send signals were below FCC limits. Robert thought that increasing his power would increase his reach to help reach areas that traditional ISPs did not cover. Its managers at Apple ignored the idea. He decided to build his own product. After spending a few years working on it nights and weekends, he went solo and formed Ubiquiti.
Over the years, Ubiquiti has expanded into many different product lines. They sell business switches, firewalls, Wi-Fi products, IP-enabled cameras, fiber products, outdoor antennas, and much more. What makes them different from all other enterprise network providers is that they do not employ direct sales force or offer technical support over the phone. They sell directly on their website, through resellers, and even through Amazon. A reseller does provide support, or also offers community-based support through their forums. I’ve used their products in various settings, and I think it’s fair to say they offer 70% of the solution from other vendors at a much lower cost. However, depending on your needs, that final 30% will make all the difference in the world. They have been very successful, and Robert even went so far as to buy the NBA franchise from the Memphis Grizzlies.
What I find interesting about Ubiquiti is how could have been Apple’s product line. Imagine if Robert had stayed at Apple and Ubiquiti was part of Apple’s corporate brand? They could have offered a low-cost network solution for business customers.
Looking back at the founding of Ubiquiti, it is a line of products that could have worked well with PowerSchool and that would have been very valuable to own today. Even if Apple didn’t want to compete in enterprise networking environments, they could have created a turnkey Wi-Fi solution for K-12 schools. That’s one area for which Google or Microsoft have a solution, and Apple could have excelled at that.
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