Thursday, July 19, 2007

Where do consummer products and enterprise products differ?

The whole new iPhone boom made me think of a topic that's been out there for years: What is the difference between a consumer type of product, and an enterprise class product? Say for example, why do companies pay the extra bucks to go for an enterprise level product? why don't they go to Best Buy or Circuit City, and get an eMachines desktop for their employees? Instead they go and pay for expensive Lenovo Thinkpads.

This question arises in networking and IT departments almost daily. A 24 port Linksys switch sold at Best buy costs arond $100. Why does a 24 port Cisco Catalyst switch cost thousands of dollars instead?

Well, lets name a few things here. First, the enterprise product is usually built with industrial level components, whereas the consumer product is built with off-the-shelf chips from discount manufacturers. The consumer product components are of less quality than the enterprise class ones. Then, for example, the Linksys switch is made out of inexpensive chips and components, while the Catalyst switch is made out of industrial components that will last much longer, sustain parameters at higher temperature ranges, and have less probability of failure. That is OK for the consumer buyer. You don't need the Linksys router to last for 20 years.

Second, there is the support or maintenance. If you go for an eMachines at Best Buy, and the hard drive dies, then you are out of luck. If a company purchases Lenovo, there is a maintenance and support contract associated with the product, and in the case of the HDD dying, then Lenovo will provide another one at no extra cost. This is an example, of course; Support contracts vary per vendor.

Finally, some products are simply not design for an enterprise level, from a functionality perspective. Picture driving a Formula 1 race car to work every day. The F1 car is built with industrial type of components, but it was not design to be an every day car. Same thing happens with IT systems; a Cisco router has features and whistles that benefit a specific customer; but not necessarily a consumer.
This last reason is what caused my writing of this posting. Apple is coming with the iPhone, but is it really an enterprise product, or a consumer product? Is it a Toyota Corolla, or is it a McLaren Mercedes?

People want to have a balance between work and personal life. Can there really be a product out there that satisfy both? I think this is a very difficult task. After all, that's why marketing segments markets.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Apple definitely can be a product for the office... there are companies out there deploying Mac's at work. And everybody's happy!