So, for due diligence purposes, I’m going to remind you to read that little disclaimer stuck in the upper right hand corner of this blog. Since that little bit is over with, let’s get on with the rest of this blog.
If you read the above link (and about 15,000 other links that you can find over @ Google News on the same subject), you’ll see that EMC is starting the “takeover dance” with a little company called Iomega. Iomega, if you remember, was that fiesty little company that tried to get rid of the floppy by introducing the Zip drive, etc. Then came the Jaz drive, the Rev drive, and suddenly, Iomega was basically buried by the pervasive optical drive market. People didn’t care about “hard drive like speeds” on the Jaz and Rev. They were awkward, required specialized hardware (vs. CDs/DVDs which were pretty much record/play anywhere) and they were priced beyond parity with CD/DVD burners.
Flashing forward, they decided to dilute their strengths by playing with NAS and other DAS storage technologies, again at disadvantageous pricing levels and weaker performance than, say, whitebox vendors like Enhance Technology, D-Link, Netgear, Linksys, etc. All in all, they quickly relegated themselves to market followers from a leadership position.
So, why is EMC going after Iomega? Surely they’ve studied brand recognition and penetration and have realized that beyond pitiful market performance (sales and revenue) that there is a certain air of distinction when “Iomega” is heard. For similar comparison, I guess, you could look at the purchase of Linksys by Cisco and how that has managed to maintain profitibility without dilution of the core branding. Conversely, you could look at AMD’s purchase of ATI Technologies and the struggle they’ve had to maintain profitability and market share since then. However, I’m going to come right out and say it: I don’t think that this move is at all a good idea. Here are a couple of points where I think this all falls apart.
a.) EMC prides itself on having a solid portfolio of performance oriented hardware. Some have come through acquisition (Clariion) and some are “homegrown” (Symmetrix). To that end, Iomega’s current position of whiteboxing other people’s hardware seems to be almost a tertiary acquisition of IP and too far down the line to really add value to the overall EMC product portfolio. Almost contradictory to the overall mission of EMC to manage a customer’s information with both quality and performance. A continuation of a whitebox agreement with Intel (a name almost synonymous with “performance” and “hardware”) would do much better.
b.) EMC is trying to move into the SMB space using their reputation for enterprise excellence. Why would you purchase an inferior product when you’re trying to strengthen your overall image within the SMB space? EMC Fortress was a good move with EMC solidifying a tailor-made product that the SMB world could affordably attain. Why EMC would want to re-engineer and re-invent the wheel with Iomega is beyond me. It’ll do more harm than good. They’ll need to redo their software (which is terrible), redo their hardware (which is terrible), and basically restructure the company into an EMC Jr. (time, expense, and…well, profitability dips doing that.) Again, for comparison purposes, Cisco, when it took over Linksys, gained a company with a solid reputation, a solid and profitable portfolio of products, and had little work to do to re-brand and promote.
c.) EMC has better purchasing options available in the SMB focused storage field. Looking at Iomega as a strictly “dilution” oriented brand purchase, what else is out there for purchase? I can think of a few different companies and alliances:
i.) Intel. Not a purchase but an alliance. Take Fortress one step further. Get into the hardware with them. Intel makes the core logic cpus and ASICs that we use (along with many others) and knows how to maintain profitability in a variety of key verticals.
ii.) Buffalo Technology. Buffalo has a VERY good reputation amongst SMB users that I’ve dealt with and again, has a VERY diversified portfolio of storage and IP based products. It’s a PERFECT fit within the EMC market. It also has international reach.
iii.) Enhance Technology. Enhance is an awkward bird when it operates by itself. However, if it had the correct strategy and corporate guidance, it would have tremendous reach. Not only are its product EXCEPTIONALLY well made, they have performance and OEM designs taken care of already. With EMC’s corporate disk alliances (Fujitsu, Hitachi, Seagate), it would be incredibly easy for EMC to incorporate and re-brand their products into EMC SMB.
Anyhow, these are my thoughts for now. Again, reference the disclaimer above as these are MY opinions, not EMCs.