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The Almighty Buck

3Com Spinning Off US Robotics 74

DaveHowe writes, "According to the 3com press release they are spinning off their US Robotics modem line into a new company, shared jointly between them, Accton and NatSteel Electronics. It is also farming off its LAN router customers to Extreme Networks but will be keeping support for them as part of a "strategic alliance". " Hmmm...perhaps they had such a nice team with the PalmPilot IPO that they figure, hey why not do it with everything?
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3Com Spinning Off US Robotics

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    with the release of its latest open source effort

    Is 3Com going open source? I don't think that this is good for the community because

    3Com is used to monopoly power

    All varieties of ethernet cards can be used under Linux, Free/OpenBSD. In fact, only NetBSD still sticks to the idea of a 3Com-only world.

    The internet is making them obsolete. All 3Com is is a name. A brand name can be easily subverted online. Expect '4Com' or '2Com' to be created by Linux zealots.

    Finally, it is a last-gasp effort. 3Com is going under and attempting to bring us with them. Why? I don't know. Revenge maybe?

    All in all, I think that as a community, we must stand strong against 3Com's intrusions. We don't need them now anyway; our open source solutions are already superior.

  • Well, both AT&T and Lucent do basic research, so at least on that point, your statement is false. :)
  • Ok, this is not just about companies just spinning off companies they've acquired (this post with Compaq+DEC, other posts about USR+3com).

    Compaq acquired DEC, not for it's Alpha or research labs, but for it's high-end know-how, and for it's world-class NT support team.

    3com acquired USR, not for it's modems, but for Palm!!!

    Therefore, it makes sense for 3com and Compaq to spin off (or sell) the unwanted portions of those business they acquired for their (to them, at least) tastier aspects.
  • Please stop this. Everyone is tired of it and
    you're not funny anymore.
  • I heard something yesterday about 3COM announcing that they would not be attempting to compete with CISCO. I also know that Lucent has been trying to buy 3COM _and_ CISCO for the past couple years. 3COM is just refocusing their strategy, instead of widening it, which is a good thing.
  • What's going to be left here? Palm is gone, and their former USR line also includes things such as cable modems (and as a former 3Com cable modem user, I have to say they were low quality cable modems, at that).

    I never really saw 3Com as a big router company, either, but it's obviously big enough for them to spin off. What's left for 3Com to try to survive on besides selling overpriced NIC cards?

    It's already been noted that they've pretty much shot themselves in the foot by spinning off Palm. It seems to me like they're going to be doing it again, twice.
  • So they swallowed up US Robotics, and now they're spinning it off again. Change of heart, I guess.
  • >Is this to say that you actually have OS and modem code that is acually stable for the TC?


    Arc - 4.2.32
    DSP - 1.2.37 or 2.0.51
    quad - 5.9.9 or 5.10.9
    dual-pri - 3.0.2
    nmc - 6.1.81

    Working wonderfully here.

  • Funny how one year 3com buys up companies like USR and Palm and then seemingly the next tehy turn around and spin them off.

    I wonder what the execs are making on these IPO deals.
  • 3Com constantly changes the hardware API of their NICs without changing the models. That and when they change models, they don't release the specs for making a driver. Thus, they too often failed to work at all in Linux (and I suspect would be as much of a problem in BSD). I got totally fed up with their junk and switched to Netgear FA-310TX and have been happy with them ever since. And I'm paying a lower price.

    As for underpowered? The 3Com NICs, when they did work, did deliver speed, so I won't knock them on that account. But my Netgear cards are doing it as well.

    BTW, I don't need a wake-on-LAN function as my servers are always awake (they run Linux). Besides, my LANs are way too active anyway.
  • Not to mention the fact that with Cisco it's also easy to automate your configurations so that you have a central store of exactly what configuration everything is supposed to have, and tools to make sure it does (alert you when a router is inconsistent, or just automatically correct it from the database). The 3Com equipment just couldn't do that. For "remote control" all the 3Com sales engineer (that's a contradiction of terms anyway) could deliver was a candy coated client program for that other OS that still required a person to be there to manually control everything (ok ... so I'm an automation phreak).
  • After all, wasn't it USR that came up with the bright idea to make windoze only modems?
  • we are alive and well and will continue as part of 3Com


    Is this to say that you actually have OS and modem code that is acually stable for the TC?


  • Yes. Is joke.
  • Mabye 3COM and 3M could merge. They could call themselves 3COMMM.
  • Zoom isn't dead either.... Companies who were in the modem business can adapt, making DSL modems, cable modems, ISDN adapters, wireless modems, home routers, etc. So while analog-line modems are on the decline, the companies who make them can reorient their skills towards replacement products. Just as, for instance, H-P reoriented its computer folks away from minicomputers (the 1000, 3000, etc.) and towards PCs and workstations.

    The interesting question in a spinoff is to see just what assets are spun off, and what are kept. The old "USR" corporate boundaries are not likely to be respected.
  • You're right about Agilent not being HP's R&D. That's called HP Labs.

    You're wrong, though, about Agilent being what used to be the most profitable and successful part of the company. Ever bought a printer cartridge? 8^)
  • Microsoft = cisco = 3Com = propriatory
    Microsoft = cisco = Old IBM
    Old IBM = Buy it = you dont loos your job

    It's not my kind of world

  • Apparently, 3Com thinks that analog is the past and digital is the future. Wow, about time they figured that out! Now they're going to focus on high-bandwidth corporate products and broadband junk. Much like Disney and their sports holdings, 3Com hopes to spin off divisions that, while profitable, don't have amazing growth potential, in an attempt to boost their stock price.<p> 3Com has also expressed in interest in LAN-based telephony (?) and some new call-center technologies. Can't wait to see what develops!
  • Oh goodness, there was never any question that 3Com is just another one of the corporates, looking then and now to make a (reasonably) honest, if not ultimately moral, buck. OTOH, there is a project at linmodems.org [linmodems.org] to get open-source drivers for these devices and make them useful under Linux, if not as modems, then as telephony interfaces for a variety of useful tasks. Hopefully, the pressure on the vendors to release drivers for these devices will build as Linux grows in popularity.

  • My area of concern is network mgmt. (TCM/UNIX) - I can not speak to the condition of the modem or OS code in TC. If you have a beef with TCM/Solaris or TCM/HP-UX for RAS, then you might be able to pin some blame on me ;)
  • A tremendous percentage of RAS implementations world-wide are done using 3Com(USR) Total Control Chassis. our division accounted for 30% of 3Com's revenue this past quarter. There is quite a bit more to 3Com than NICS etc.

    (FYI - I work for 3Com Carrier R&D)
  • I work for the Carrier Systems group at 3Com on the Total Control Chassis. This is USR's carrier equipment line - we are alive and well and will continue as part of 3Com. The only piece that got chucked was the old modem stuff.
  • Sure, they are still making money for them, but how can a modem compete with DSL or Cable, or whatever new broadband service that is going to be showing up soon. It can't.

    Modems can travel to wherever you have a phone line that isn't too noisy. Certainly, for my home system I'm using a faster connection. But when I'm travelling a laptop and a modem can still get me connected from virtually anywhere.

  • First there were the small, fast, agile little creatures like Palm and US Robotics. USR got a little bigger and swallowed up Palm. Then big 3Com swallowed up USR.

    But it never got big enough to challenge the giants like Cisco while at the same time it was too big and clumsy to compete with smaller, more nimble little start ups. So they spun off Palm, letting it dart freely across the landscape the way it once did.

    With one less mouth to feed, 3Com felt better and more limber than it had in years. So it looked around and decided to let USR roam free. After shedding the extra pounds, 3Com looked at itself in the mirror and liked what it saw.
  • This smacks of the old Borland/Ashton Tate merger. Borland buys it's competitor purely out of ego and pays a king's ransom for it. Then they realize it was a bad idea and try to farm off (or spin off) as much of the competitor's technology as possible. In the case of Borland all they have left is Interbase, *and they just made that product free* because they couldn't find a buyer.

    Pan forward a few years.. the k56/X2 wars rage on and USR finds themselves losing even tho they're selling lots of product. Enter 3Com, who in one self ego-gratifying swoop consumes their rival. Ending the 56k wars, just in time for DSL (making THAT a fine investment.. not!). The interesting part here is the 'booby' prize that 3Com had aquired as part of USR... Palm Computing. Now Palm has been spun off, it's the new rich kid on the block, 3Com investors have more money, etc. But 3Com had no clue they had that diamond in USR's corporate coalheap, that's not what they're target was in buying USR. It was just luck. Glad someone at 3Com was paying attention, perhaps that can save them.

    Now they're trying to farm off all of their modem equipment, which no one is buying much of anymore these days anyway in favor of ISDN/DSL/Cable Modems (at least not in the US - I can't speak for other countries). Hope they can succeed in trying to futher backpeddle on their USR expenditure.
  • There was a good story on 3COM and why they're acting the way they're acting in the NYTimes yesterday. Basically, if you look at all of the potentially profitable divisions that 3COM purchased in the past 15 yrs, you begin to wonder how they've stayed profitable so long. You have divisions that the only thing they have in common is that they have electricity flowing through them. Problem is that when you're that big with that diverse a product line with nothing in common, you're unable to keep up the pressure or lead the market in any of your divisions. Example would be Palm against Handspring. In able for a company to be able to compete well in these booming tech years, a company needs to be trim and fit and able to move decisively. Apple realized the same thing a few years ago when they started shedding products and technologies (I'm still upset they killed the Newton). But if you look at Apple, it worked. 3COM said they're now going to concentrate primarily on broadband modems, spinning off their modems, routers, and everything else that isn't directly connected to their new core product line.
  • From the index file referenced in the above response:

    SPVC336.EXE 3169558 09-28-97 Sportster Voice 33.6 Modem manual | (Self-extracting archive/MS Word format)

    Try downloading that at 56K and extracting it - I would have spit nails if I had taken the time to do that. Luckily I have more bandwidth :)

  • Although, I agree with your assertion that 3com NICs are overpriced, I disagree that they are underpowered.

    The company I work with has been using 3com NICs, Hubs, and Switches, and to be honest, you can't get anything better.

    Just the NICs themselves are wonderfull. You mentioned the 3C-905tx,... this model has a wake-on-lan function which IMHO, is the best you can find.

    Funny you should mention DEC Tulip based NICs. One of the contractors for my company brought in some HP servers which were equipped with such cards. One card fried, and started sending out high-voltage electricity across the ethernet cable. Least I say more?

  • I'v seen a lot of comments that focus on the fact that USR is becoming a separate company. The thing is, 3Com is doing this because it is an easy "fundraiser".

    If this is anything like the Palm IPO, 3Com's stock will drop a few dollars and they'll raise a fortune selling the USR stock. 3Com profits because they can keep controll of USR and selling it to investors as a different company, they can raise tons of money.


  • Goodness, US Robotics has just been kicked all over the business world in the past 5 years. They were an awfully nice company when they had some control over their own interests.

    Speaking of which... RIP Hayes :-(

  • heh :) Seriously, though, Agilent's market share is on average something like 70 to 80 percent. When I worked for what is now Agilent 2 years ago, it accounted for 1/6 of HP's total revenue, with something like 1/20 of the personnel.
  • The HP/Agilent split had nothing to do with separating sales from R&D. What is now Agilent used to the Telecoms & Medical equipment divisions of HP, which, incidentally, was by far and away the most profitable and successful part of the company.
  • Hope that wasn't a leak.
  • Does this merger makes anyone else nervous ? I guess AOL is going to be the ISP now for my cable modem (bad joke) maybe they'll have an ad-bar that would be great (joking). It will be interesting to see how things pan out.
  • You're right, I think they've just realised they need to think about ditching anaolgue communications products (bit slow there...); they seem to be hedging their bets a little about which way they expect global telecoms to go (wired or wireless), sounds like they'll just wait and see?

    There's nothing in the press release that screams "Innovative".
  • Hmmm. There's always a cynic. :-)

    Who's to define what socialising means anymore? How can more and more people talking/E-mailing/SMS-ing etc possibly make people more distant from each other? Sure, there are still people who view the Internet as an end in itself... but the same is true of bars and coffee houses. If I want to be sociable, why should I have to conform to someone else's way of doing so?

    (...OFF TOPIC!!)
  • I've been installing 3com products of one type or another for about 7 years now. The first five were very, very good. I was very impressed with 3com NICs; the reliability and ease of administration were nearly unparalleled. As an administrator, you try and limit the things you have to worry about... And the 3com NICs definitely did that for me. The last few years have given me cause for concern. 3com has shown a marked lack of focus. They put their name on a ballpark (Candlestick Park, San Francisco), bought a modem company, built VPN and router solutions and purchased Palm. This lack of focus has trickled back down to me, the administrator/consultant. The NICs are not as reliable as they used to be, the hubs require fans to be changed each annum, and I find myself having to worry about stuff more than I like. This makes me grumpy. So, maybe this all sits well within an all-too typical cycle of gathering and scattering; most businesses do this in an effort to placate shareholders. Every couple of years, somebody writes a book that says "Diversify!" In the offsetting years, somebody else writes a book that says "Consolidate!" As for this grumpy administrator/consultant, I could care less what the business model looks like. Let's just return to basic quality assurance, please.
  • SANTA CLARA, Calif., - April 1, 2000 - Following the initial public offering of Palm, Inc., and the announcement last month that it would spin off US Robotics, 3Com Corporation today announced it's latest strategy to raise capital for future growth. Pending SEC approval, expected in early May, 3Com will be spinning off 3Com. A company spokesman pointed out that the Palm division quickly eclipsed it's parent when it was spun off earlier this year. Based on that experience, both 3Com's management team and several Wall Street analysts have concluded that spinning off something as large as the entire parent company should result in even greater share prices for the new offering. The spokesman also mentioned that 3Com has not yet determined what will become of the parent company, but explained that it will consist of the corporate name itself and a file drawer in the office of the legal department of the new spin off.
  • *LMFAO* You're thinking of 3M [3m.com] makers of PostIts, Scotch Tape and all kinds of nifty paper products...not 3Com [3com.com] the makers of some of the best NIC cards ever made *LMFAO*

    I'm /sure/ that was a joke....it was a joke...right?
  • twas a good joke my friend, thanks for the smile :)
  • Folks,

    I think what is happening is that 3Com is reorganizing themselves to be ready when broadband Internet access becomes very common.

    In fact, leveraging the well-known US Robotics brand, don't be surprised that a few years from now when you sign up for cable or ADSL broadband access, the ISP will provide you with a US Robotics-branded modem, either an external model that connects through an 10/100BaseT Ethernet NIC or USB port or an internal model that you install on the PCI port.
  • I protest, I've never used a 3com nic that i didn't hate.

    They're overpriced and generally underpowered. In my own tests (ttcp, closed, switched network) their flagship 905tx was consistently slower than everything else, even realtek.

    They do have a good warranty, but you're gonna need it. I've had many, many fail on me.

    Personally my advice is this: If you want top performance in microsoft OSs, go for Intel 82559 based nics, for about half the price of 3Com. If you want top performance in Linux or BSD, go for a DEC Tulip or tulip-clone based nic like the Netgear FA-310TX for a quarter the price of 3Com. Genuine DEC 21140 Tulip cards are getting rare, most these days use a clone chip, you may have the best results with 2.2.14.

    If you want cheap, various surplus vendors are carrying DEC 21140 Tulip based nics for about $12 each. You won't be disappointed. The ones I've seen are Samsung branded. Settling for less (Maxonix, Realtek) you will probably be disappointed. The Netgear nic can be had for $15.

    So why blow $45 on a 3Com when it sucks? Screw the warranty, buy a spare for every machine for half the total cost.

  • by marks ( 12185 )
    Uhmm, this makes no sense, really, as 3Com just mjerged with USR a few years back. But, on closer inspection, it does make some sense, as a lot of high tech companies are seperating their R&D departments from their sales and marketing departments. AT&T did that with Lucent, and HP with Agilent. I guess that 3com is implying that USR will be its "R&D" arm, while 3com will be its sales/marketing arm. In that case, the Palm spinoff/IPO makes sense, too.

  • wtf? So the new business model to absorb a terrific and popular company, destroy their culture, discombobulate their website into a festering heap of painful confusion, commoditize them, completely flattening the market, and then IPO it for some giggles?

    Palm Pilot was an awesome company, 3com just commoditized them and mediocered their innovation into the ground. Has anything really changed between the original Palm Pilot and the IIIc - ooh! it's in color! Look ma, same crappy basic apps, but in color!

    I love my Palm Vx, but the innovation that is found in the Handspring (created by the original inventors of the palm pilot) is really indicitive of a stifling culture at 3com.

    I wish US Robotics well, I'm sorry they had to suffer through 3com. Hopefully now they can return to innovating some kick ass products that geeks well lust after like the first time I saw a Courier 1200.

  • This is very good for 3Com. They need to get back to their core business -- making PostIt Notes.
  • Gather round
    Buy'em up
    Float'em for a while

    When yer done
    Spin them off
    Watch them fall on the ground


    When they're down
    Pick'em up one more time
    And do it all over again!!

  • SPVC336.EXE 3169558 09-28-97 Sportster Voice 33.6 Modem manual | (Self-extracting archive/MS Word format)
    Well, to be fair to them
    1. There IS a PDF version on the line below (spvc336.pdf),
    2. It is a copy of the original manual (that came in the box) - a 3mb download isn't too unreasonable if you had a copy and then lost it and
    3. it is so large because it is in Word 6 format - so can be read for "free" on a Win9x box - you don't need to buy MS Office97
    Many manufacturers (my current employer too, I am sad to say) either don't supply replacement manuals, or charge for them.

    however, from the other point of view -

    1. a 3mb download seems a lot over a 33.6 modem (and if you don't have a 33.6 modem, why do you need a manual for it?)
    2. It doesn't NEED all the pretty pictures it has - Word 6 was notoriously bad at storing images, so why force it to?
    3. The same pictures, stored externally as gifs and linked to as a set of .htm files, zip down to less than 2mb,and I suspect would do much better if the images that are re-used time and time again in the file were a single item in the zipfile.

  • Maybe now they will have a website that is worth a crap. USR 56k modems are so popular, but trying to d/l a bios flash from the website is an exercise in futility. The tech manual for those modems is a 3 Mb compressed file which decompresses to a 60 Mb Word file! There is no option to search downloads - search only returns tech docs.
    You can usually get much better results if you go directly to the FTP site - try the following:
    • Here [usr.com] for 3Com Cable Modem Files
    • Here [usr.com] for 3Com Courier ISDN Files
    • Here [usr.com] for 3Com Courier Modems
    • Here [usr.com] for 3Com OfficeConnect 56K Business Modem
    • Here [usr.com] for 3Com Sportster ISDN Files
    • Here [usr.com] for 3Com U. S. Robotics ISDN TA
    • Here [usr.com] for 3Com US Robotics Modem (Sportster
    • Here [usr.com] for 3Com USB Network Interface
    • Here [usr.com] for 3Com Voice Modem Support Files
    • Here [usr.com] for 3Com WinModem Support Files
    • Here [usr.com] for Big Picture Video Support Files
    • Here [usr.com] for FAQs and Software Setup Docs
    • Here [usr.com] for Macintosh Communications
    • Here [usr.com] for US Robotics Worldport Modems
    In each case there is a file "index" that lists the contents of the directory in ascii. 3Com have actually made a decent effort here to support those that don't need the handholding of a pretty Shockwave website........
  • Palm Computing is bought by U.S. Robotics
    U.S. Robotics is bought by 3Com
    Palm Computing is sold by 3Com
    U.S. Robotics is sold by 3Com

    What's next?
    Palm Computing is bought by U.S. Robotics?
  • Maybe now they will have a website that is worth a crap. USR 56k modems are so popular, but trying to d/l a bios flash from the website is an exercise in futility. The tech manual for those modems is a 3 Mb compressed file which decompresses to a 60 Mb Word file! There is no option to search downloads - search only returns tech docs.

    I haven't seen an update to their download section in months, so if one loses the "connections" cd, they are in for a hell of a time.

  • Other than NICs, does 3Com make anything anyone really cares about? Let's look at theis products:

    USR Courier Modems: excellent, but an acquisition

    Palm Pilot: now spun off, and acquisition to boot

    hubs: strictly me-too

    switches: low end, me-too

    routers: let's just say Cisco doesn't lose sleep

    NOS: um, anyone even remember 3Com+share/open?

    NICs: OK, these are pretty good. Basically, from its inception, 3Com has ridded the Etehrnet wave for all it is worth. Now that Etehrnet is now largely a commodity market, they are in trouble. Their last few acquisitions failed to revitilize the company and basically have to be spun back off to avoid destroying their value (unless you really believe that USR has fared well under 3Com's ownership, and that Palm is worse off on their own).

    Look for good things from the new USR, but forget 3Com, they haven't shown any real direction of innovation for years.

  • Easy. Unlike the lucky folks who live in larger populous centers, those of us in the north woods have no other options for internet connectivity from home, and we won't have them for a while yet. Heck, I can't even get a cable modem because the local cable company doesn't support them....and a lot of the folks up in The County don't even have cable to begin with, because their neighborhoods haven't been wired for it yet (population isn't dense enough to make it profitable). Dish Network et al. are big sellers up this way.

    The modem market isn't going to dry up entirely until these more remote regions get more thoroughly wired. Will it decline? Of course... but there will be a niche for good old fashioned modems for several years to come.

    -- WhiskeyJack, from the deepest, darkest wilds of Maine. ;)

  • Modems are going to be going away pretty fast over the next few years, and I would think that perhaps 3Com pretty much milked USR for everything they could.

    Someone has already pointed out that there are areas in the U.S. where there's nothing to choose but modem connection. But if you broaden your scope you will notice that many countries in the world still buy U.S.-made hardware. The internet is growing fast, and faster outside highly developed areas, where modems will be the only access route for many years to come.

    This is already happening (I mean the repressed demand). When I run my BBS in '94, when I wanted to add a line I had a dozen places I could go to and buy a USR Sportster 14.400. Installing them was a breeze. Today I cannot find a Sportster to replace the crappy WinModem that came with what is now my Linux box (I live in a small town without ISDN, in Brazil). I had to "steal" the USR 28.8k card from the box my children use. And many others don't "turn" to Linux because of this.

  • by Hrunting ( 2191 ) on Tuesday March 21, 2000 @07:45AM (#1187504) Homepage
    I read elsewhere that this is part of a broader strategy by 3Com to manage themselves for future changes in the hi-tech industry. Basically, USR and Palm function better as independent companies. The modem/low-end connection market has become pretty much saturated and the growth that allowed USR to become such a well-known and successful company has subsided, leaving 3Com with what amounts to a stable and non-developing subsidiary. This is bad for a company in the hi-tech arena because the market changes so fast that if you aren't growing, you're dying. The Palm spin-off was a different story, as 3Com wasn't getting anything from Palm that they needed for their projected focus, mainly ISP services, equipment, etc.

    One can poke fun at the business model (buy a company, then spin it off), but it was just bad timing by 3Com. They picked up USR when it was at the top of the peak and now they're letting it go. It's good they recognize the harm in keeping it, because that will maybe allow them to survive. Same goes with Palm, because managing Palm took resources away from other areas they need to concentrate on. I wouldn't be surprised if they created another company or completely separate subdivision to manage their home product line either (cards, small hubs, etc.) as that market's growth is slowing down, too (supposedly, I'm no expert; just reporting what I remember reading).

    With the way that Internet business world is shaping up, though, who can tell what will happen?
  • by SgtPepper ( 5548 ) on Tuesday March 21, 2000 @05:46AM (#1187505)
    can't wait for aoltimewarner.com

    You know, i couldn't resist, sure 'nuf, it's a site...aoltimewarner.com [aoltimewarner.com] Coming soon... The World's First Media and Communications Company for the Internet Age

    Gotta love it ;)
  • by Gideon ( 10205 ) on Tuesday March 21, 2000 @06:07AM (#1187506) Homepage
    As a (soon-to-be-former) 3Com employee and part-time Linux geek, I think that 3Com going open-source is pretty damn unlikely. Alliance with Microsoft is much more in line with the current company bulletins here.

    The idea of 3Com having monopoly power is, frankly, laughable. If there is a monopoly in the world of netwrecking, it is held by Cisco and their high-end routers (although I'm not trying to sling mud here; merely stating the obvious).

    The atmosphere here today in the UK is *weird*, though; there's metaphorical blood all over the walls, as they appear to be trying to get rid of the entire customer support department - their strategy appears to be to make everything so point-and-drool that even a moron can operate it and use this as an excuse not to have anything more than a vestigial customer support service.
  • by FascDot Killed My Pr ( 24021 ) on Tuesday March 21, 2000 @05:37AM (#1187507)
    Compaq decides to spin of it's Unix/Alpha development: Going to call the new company "Digital Equipment Corporation".

    What we really have to watch out for is when Microsoft decides to spin off all the companies *they've* acquired--with all those companies spinning merrily away someone could lose an eye.
  • by dmccarty ( 152630 ) on Tuesday March 21, 2000 @05:29AM (#1187508)
    In a way, it's sad to watch 3Com struggle against mighty Cisco and newcomer Nortel. For someone like me whose childhood introduction to computers began in the mid-80's, 3Com has been like an IBM: always there.

    I wouldn't count them out, though. CEO Eric Benhamou is a very smart guy and if 3Com is shedding some extra weight, they must also have something good planned ahead. Too bad for 3Com that they bought U.S. Robotics right as the market for analog modems peaked out at 56K. Palm was really the only feather in their cap, and they did the honorable thing to let it go before their own decline affected it.

    As a side note, a Dell computer I just bought has its official "3Com 56K" modem listed as a U.S. Robotics modem. Go figure.


  • by e-matt ( 158558 ) on Tuesday March 21, 2000 @05:26AM (#1187509) Homepage
    So 3com which Purchases USR in 1997 is now (three years later) going to spin off USR into another company, it would seem to me this is display of the business cycle of life, or a good company (USR) that was bought by a biggeer company (3com) and was sucked into a business void in which business suffered so now they are going to break it out to increase profitability, It makes you wonder if companies are succeeding to fail. can't wait for aoltimewarner.com
  • by igjeff ( 15314 ) on Tuesday March 21, 2000 @05:46AM (#1187510)
    Let me see if I can clarify a few misconceptions here...

    Extreme is getting 3Com's CoreBuilder line...this is very high end routers and switches.

    Motorola is get most of the PathBuilder and most of the NetBuilder lines (3Com will retain a few of the products in each of these lines). NetBuilders are the more traditional routers, PathBuilders are workgroup and specialty switches.

    NatSteel and Accton (sp?) get the modems, NetSteel also gets the manufacturing facility in the Chicago suburbs (nice facility...toured it in October) and will manufacture 3Com equipment under contract there. This facility manufactures all of the Total Control line of equipment I believe, as well as cable modems, and DSL modems (3Com only does CPE DSL modems at this point). I believe they also do whatever the Sportster line is called now at that facility, and probably a couple of other things I'm forgetting. :)

    The modems will be spun off into their own company called "USRobotics" (what goes around comes around) in conjunction with NatSteel and Accton. Its important to note that the purchase of USRobotics approximately 3 years ago included Palm, and the Total Control line...Palm, of course, is already spun off, and Total Control is being retained by 3Com, so this really isn't the same USRobotics from days or yore. Personally, I tend to think its better...more focused...USRobotics had trouble executing on the Total Control back then (we used the line back then even), focusing on only consumer analog modems may allow them to return to the quality of USRobotics modems that many of us remember from years gone by. I hope.

    So...now the question that a lot of people ask when they hear all this..."What does that leave?"

    Well...as I mentioned...Total Control, which is really a whole line of products and is aimed at Carriers and ISPs, is still gonna be there. I suspect the part of the PathBuilder line that they are keeping as well is being held on to in order to complement the Total Control.

    This also leaves home networking and small business networking (nics, ISDN routers, small hubs, etc.), I also suspect the part of the NetBuilder line that they are retaining will be there to complement this part of the business...the low end of the NetBuilders.

    The last part that is still there is the VOIP product lines and related products. The NBX 100 and 3Com's ethernet phones are supposed to be pretty nifty...though I haven't had a chance to try any out yet. A couple of the acquisitions that were announced were to beef up this area...unified messaging, etc.

    As a 3Com customer...particularly of the Total Control line...I see all of this as a very good thing. I do find it interesting though. When I think of what 3Com is...I think of NetBuilder and CoreBuilder...its almost like 3Com is selling off their identity and becoming a totally new company in the process. The new logo almost confirms this idea (note I'm *definitely* in the realm of my own personal opinion here, take it for what you will).

    I've always thought the Total Control line was the "ugly step-child" of 3Com...and now they seem like they want to make that the core of their business...I say more power to them! :)

    Any way you look at it, there are interesting days ahead.

  • Same with Zoom, etc? Modems are going to be going away pretty fast over the next few years, and I would think that perhaps 3Com pretty much milked USR for everything they could. Sure, they are still making money for them, but how can a modem compete with DSL or Cable, or whatever new broadband service that is going to be showing up soon. It can't.

    It sounds to me like 3Com sees this (if they can't then they are pretty bloody stupid) and is now letting them float out there for someone to buy in the next few years.

"An open mind has but one disadvantage: it collects dirt." -- a saying at RPI