If You Shoot for the Middle, You Miss the Wi-Fi Market

Atheros has just announced the launch of its Align product family – a portfolio of one-stream 802.11n chips designed to provide an upgrade to legacy 802.11g products. More specifically, Atheros is trying to entice customers who have purchased proprietary “turbo g” based products to upgrade to a faster and also standards-based 802.11n product. The chipmaker’s customers will be targeting low-cost notebook, notebook, home networking, and consumer electronics products and will promise faster performance, greater range, and lower energy use compared to 802.11g-based products. There are a number of factors that contributed to Atheros’ decision. One is the growth of 802.11n-based laptops flowing through the retail channel. Another is the drop in price of 802.11n-based routers. Still, Align-based products will sit midway between very low-priced 802.11g products and very high-end multi-stream 802.11n products and therein lies the danger.

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