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UniFi — The Beginning of The Higher Market Disruption

by Ubiquiti Employee 2 weeks ago - last edited 2 weeks ago


How An Outdoor Wireless Company Entered
the Enterprise WiFi Market

 

 

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Perhaps now hard to believe, Ubiquiti’s decision to enter a new market with the introduction of UniFi in 2010 was generally criticized. At that time, some questioned why a company driving explosive growth in the outdoor Wireless Internet Service Provider Industry would risk diverting their focus. Others questioned how Ubiquiti, having less than 25 employees and none of them marketing or sales people, could possibly enter a market dominated by traditional sales models. Nevertheless, I saw an Industry ripe for disruption and a perfect opportunity for us to leverage our core strengths.

 

 

Exactly why was it so compelling? In 2009, if you took apart a $1,000+ “Enterprise WiFi” AP and compared it to a <$50 consumer WiFi AP, you would see 90% component/material overlap. Enterprise vendors were essentially over-engineering consumer WiFi reference designs for often little more than incremental performance benefit and then dramatically over-charging for them. Ubiquiti’s past success was attributed to a completely opposite philosophy — making designs more cost-efficient (while enhancing performance) and passing savings on to the customer. And our increasing economy of scale at this point (1mm+ AirMax radios/ yr) reinforced what I saw as an excellent Enterprise WiFi opportunity. I believed a solution at just a fraction of the cost combined with a basic features set and some “Ubiquiti magic” would find its way to disrupting the market and breaking the established IT sales dynamics.

 

What exactly do I mean by “Ubiquiti magic?” Well, market timing and cost-disruption alone do not make a disruptive product. If they did, then many vendors focused on low-cost hardware plays wouldn’t be struggling with marketshare and achieving profitability. There is a reason why Ubiquiti, a cost leader, is also by many metrics the most profitable hardware company in the world. Making disruptive products also requires a kind of design magic — something that conveys to the customer qualities of premium craftsmanship, thoughtful usability, and ingenuity which in turn spark intrigue and evangelism. In fact, many people think it was our user community that lifted our brand and products to success, but it very likely was the other way around.

 

Here are a few examples of “Ubiquiti magic” inherent in the UniFi platform launch in 2010:

 

1. The “UniFi” marketing brand

 

“Uni” — which means to combine multiple pieces into one; paired with “WiFi” creates “UniFi” — the perfect name for a system that manages multiple WiFi AP’s within a single control plane. Even better, this word transcends languages nicely — this is important as non-native English speakers makeup a big part of our customer base.

 

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2. The industrial design

 

Inspired by the Airport Extreme project I worked on at Apple, but optimized for wall and ceiling installation. Lower-profile dimensions for a seamless mounted presentation and antenna patterns optimized to direct energy angled out. A glowing circular LED ring was used to give the product a “personality” that changed colors according to device state. (a design element that was quite original at the time)

 

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3. The 3-Pack

 

Also a unique idea at the time was the AP 3-pack which framed the marketing message that UniFi was a scalable system. (Today we have evolved to 5-packs to support the higher installation count of typical UniFi deployments)

 

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The Performance Story

 

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To those who have followed UniFi’s history, it is no secret that we struggled post-launch to improve performance and quality of the platform. Following the initial success of the product, we urgently needed to improve across multiple areas including feature expansion, wireless performance, better quality control, and more attention to user experience. Disappointingly, we just failed to execute. So what exactly happened? Sometimes a development team that is good in taking a project from concept to market is not the team best suited to scale and perfect. Eventually we made the tough decision to pivot towards a complete restructuring of the platform development team and strategy. (Similar to our pivots in the Airmax world at around the same time).

 

As a result of these changes, we started executing far more effectively across all key performance areas of the platform as well as introducing new products and technologies at a rapid pace. While it may have looked like growth was slowing just a couple years ago, UniFi is now re-accelerating, growing faster than ever before and recently becoming the highest volume shipping Enterprise WiFi platform in the world. Even more exciting, we are on the brink of a second-wave of disruption, attacking the higher ends of the market and not because of cost, but because many believe UniFi is now simply the best all-around performing platform in the Industry and here is why:

 

1. Performance

 

A true enterprise WiFi AP today should be fast, resilient, and reliable. It should be near-ethernet speed under light load, provide solid performance and low-latency under heavy loads and interference, as well as maintain stability at all times — even when faced with possibly any of thousands of older quirky 802.11 legacy devices fighting for air time. The UniFi platform was always effective in delivering elegant AP management, but it wasn’t until last year that we achieved true enterprise wireless performance — and we haven’t stopped there. In fact, by many accounts, UniFi has now quickly ascended to be the top performing WiFi Solution in the Industry.

 

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To get to this level of performance has been an exercise in persistently testing and optimizing of the wireless driver performance with rapid iteration. In fact, we have built teams to develop tools just to allow us to conduct testing more efficiently. These tools combined with the transparent feedback of our community, who have collectively deployed 10mm+ AP’s, has enabled us to make excellent progress in a short amount of time.

 

 

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2. User Experience

 

IT solutions are generally intimidating to operate and have configuration interfaces proprietary in nature. Traditional companies have used these as an advantage by creating training and certification classes which “lock in” system integrators after they have invested into the deep learning curve. We have taken a very different approach. While UniFi has tons of advanced functionality, we constantly strive to build a user experience that is visually intuitive and can very quickly be mastered by nearly anyone with a general networking background. Furthermore, the UniFi interface is designed to elegantly manage different technologies across different geographic locations all within a single framework.

 

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3. Customer Service

 

It is widely known that Ubiquiti hosts a powerful community of system integrators who, together with our R&D, evangelize, improve, and support the UniFi platform. But UniFi also offers very responsive email support and real-time 24/7 online chat built into the controller, available free of charge.

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4. WiFi Product Breadth

 

UniFi offers a comprehensive family of Access Points covering various applications including outdoor wifi, hospitality, education, and enterprises — each with unique form-factors designed specifically for their application use.

 

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5. Feature Expansion

 

The UniFi team continues to expand the platform with new features including Integrated Radius server with insights for advanced installations, fully customizable hotspots with detailed analytics, as well as powerful deep-packet inspection reporting to characterize network use.

 

 

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6. Technology Expansion

 

While UniFi is known as a WiFi system, it is rapidly expanding to adjacent technologies. The UniFi switching portfolio is quickly gaining market share and we are focused this year on bringing higher-end gateways, application servers, and other technologies to market — all managed within the UniFi controller.

 

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A Second Wave of Disruption

 

Interestingly, while UniFi’s performance has dramatically improved over the past couple years, we have been even more aggressive in our pricing strategy. For example, where our top selling 802.11n UAP Pro was priced at $229 MSRP, we introduced our UAP AC PRO (with several times higher performance) at $149 MSRP. We followed this up with very low entry points for our UAP AC Mesh and UAP AC Inwall each at $99 MSRP as well as with our hi-density POE Switching family also starting at $99 MSRP.

 

The obvious question — why would we sacrifice margins and profitability when we don’t have to? While it is true the above products would still be successful even at significantly higher pricing, we made a conscience decision to reduce short-term profits in an effort to maximize UniFi brand awareness, build greater long-term competitive advantage, and force the Industry’s attention to our marketshare gains. In turn, our hope was that UniFi’s performance could stand on its own and ultimately be recognized as a legitimate solution for higher-end markets.

 

And just as we hoped, UniFi (even without a sales force behind it) is now starting to make its way up-market into a more demanding customer base — one who values performance just as much as price. And in preparation of this next phase of evolution, we have been working towards a new product portfolio along with an advanced hosting and support solution . Specifically our “HD and “XG” series of products brings high density client support and 10Gigabit performance across WiFi AP’s, switches, and gateways. These new products are complimented by our UniFi Elite service launching this year that will offer a complete hosting solution, advanced RMA replacement, lifetime warranty, and expert-level phone support.

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Comments
by
2 weeks ago
Wahoo!!! Thank you @UBNT-Robert
by
2 weeks ago

AWESOME SAUCE!  Thanks @UBNT-Robert  

 

XG stuff = Drool5

by
2 weeks ago

I imagined the USG XG would be a silver version of the Infinity. This render blows my mind. Im very excited to get my hands on one. 

by
2 weeks ago

XG.jpeg 

Shut-up-and-take-my-money.jpg

by
2 weeks ago

As a very early adopter, we have watched the platform evolve and finally (in 2016) get real traction on a whole host of challenging wireless client issues.  At this point, it truly rocks.

 

I can still update our first batch of Gen1 UAP's (now repurposed at nonprofits and for small houses) with current firmware.  That's a 6+ year lifecycle on a very low cost product -- bravo!

by
2 weeks ago

Where is the LTU write up ? Man Happy

by
2 weeks ago

I thought the LTU one was coming next.

by
2 weeks ago

I see what you did there, can we get the specs on the XG equipment. 

by
2 weeks ago
We are very proud of your success as company that reflects the complete happiness not only of your customers but our clients. Continue doing things so disruptive and been a company so accessible and close to their community. Your success is our success too.
by
2 weeks ago

Robert,

 

Congratulations, your inovative and disruptive mind set is amazing.

I am proud to distribute Ubiquiti since the begining in Brazil.

I really beleive Wireless Enterprise Market is going to be the next challange to allow IoT applications.

 

Count on WDC Networks to support the "The Higher Market Disruption"

 

Vanderlei

by
2 weeks ago

@UBNT-Robert - Wonderfully said. It's true, there are blue UFOs showing up all over the place, and for good reason. Its an amazing experience. 

by
2 weeks ago

problem is most of the stuff released is only half done and missing most enterprise features ....would have been nice if some of it would get actually finished 

by
2 weeks ago

We have been having a lot of fun with the Ubiquiti products.  We started carrying them several years ago.  We've installed hundreds of the AP's, lots of controllers, Ethernet switches, and lately alot of the Unifi & EdgeMax firewall/routers.  We use the Ubiquiti products as part of our managed infrastructure offerings.  The Ubiquiti products are at very competitive price point.  Great stuff!!!!

 

Thanks,

 

 

Rudy Ruedemann

 

President

E-Cubed Consulting, LLC

by
2 weeks ago
Robert,

Your products have allowed our small non-profit schools to devote more resources into the classroom and less into the pockets of Cisco,Aruba, and Dell.

Our staff, students, and parents thank you!
by
2 weeks ago

Good job

my suggestion for next :

1. Easy to use access restriction for family member by time and website.

so we can make kids study at the study time/ not playing social media and others.

2.  How about UBNT Cache Box ? including video cache. using SSD storage. to make user experience better 

just my 2c

by
2 weeks ago
@utomo Most web traffic is wrapped in SSL, especially video = you can't cache it without breaking security.
by
2 weeks ago

Wait right there, UAP XG............ Uhmmmmmmmmm, I am going to need two........

by
2 weeks ago

Love the UniFi product line, APs and Switches. Would like to see the security gateways have more options to compete with enterprise firewall products out there. I am using UniFi everywhere but for the firewall. Not quite yet impressed enough with the USG/Gateway products. Looking forward to more and maybe soon everything will be UniFi.

by
2 weeks ago - last edited 2 weeks ago

@UBNT-Robert

Congrats!  As a non early adopter, I have watched the UniFi platform growing day by day since 2014, fulfilling our hospitality clients needs. I started with a 3Pack (the trusty UAP of 1st generation) and ended installing more than 400 units in two years! Most of my clients do agree once the install is done and working as a charm: "You saved me a lot of money, I was about to install Cis**, Mer**** or Ruc***...that´s a lot of "paellas" in money terms! Smiley Happy

 

You start with one UAP... and you will end up loving the whole UniFi family!

 

Thanks for recieving us at SFO!

 

Regards from Spain!

Vijay - WiFi Solutions

by
2 weeks ago

Regarding Performance - #3 Customer Service

 

As an early adopter, and a previous dedicated follower of the Ubiquiti line of products, I couldn’t disagree with Robert Pera @UBNT-Robert more…..  Their “Customer Service”, if you want to call it that, is non-existent.  Chat and/or email support is not sufficient for “enterprise class” equipment. 

 

When I personally emailed Robert, I did not receive an email back acknowledging anything…..  No, rather I received an email from someone else offering me more email support.  Once I pushed back, I was told that they would be rolling-out UniFi Elite Service in the future (at a cost – I take it). 

 

Given that we could not get ANY “Customer Service” for pieces of failed equipment and problems with their software, I have made the decision to remove all pieces of Ubiquiti products from my infrastructure.  Sadly, this may be the only way that Ubiquiti will learn how to handle “Customer Service”…… when it hits them in the pocket.

by
2 weeks ago

Awesome! Can't wait for the new router!  I like the idea of the advanced "elite" support too! Been using unifi since the UAP. Smile5

by
2 weeks ago

IMHO main problem is Unifi controller.

Antennas techonlogy has evolved and growed with high standard, unifi controller grow was slow and it isn't a controller but it is a simple central configuration: it hasn't intelligence for channels analysis, roaming clients, problems prediction (e.g. zero Mbps clients) and so on.

Before I will switch to a new (hardware) products I want to see an effective software grow.

 

v.

by
2 weeks ago

As an early adapter and disciple of Ubuiqity I can not do anything else that congratulate you and your team. In the past years you gave done a good job!

I have had contact with Ubnt in the past, and the contacts and help where always good; I do not recognice the experiences others have in these comments. For me that is positive Man Happy .

I have seen the UniFi branch growing and growing. The UniFi 'eco system' is becoming bigger and completer. I think one of the challanges is to keep it all manageable in a good way in the Controller.

Personally I work with a CloudKey (after started with the Controller on a RPi), but the functions are growing and growing, an when not using all Ubuiqity equipment in the network (budgetwise I also use a lot op open source solutions), and all functions present in the Controller, there is a lot of noise in the Controller. Please keep this in mind when developping the UniFi branch further.

by
2 weeks ago - last edited 2 weeks ago

@UBNT-Robert

 

Well done to you and the entire UniFi team!

Very exciting times ahead!

A device I would love to see and think could make a big market impact is a small Edgerouter X type UniFi device (with or without WiFi) for the remote home office worker.

The simplicity and power of the UniFi controller would make managing remote VPN users so easy.

Keep up the great work!

by
2 weeks ago

It is very nice from you to write to your customers. We are very happy we swapped our old non-centralized tplink routers to 1 USG, 4 UAPs, 1 UAP-LR, and 1 UAP-AC-LR. I started with a 3-Pack UAP of 1st generation + USG and I have also watched the UniFi platform growing day by day.

This system runs reliably and operates about 70 completely different clients at full speed if needed. No reboots, but rock stable, as if it was an easy exercise.
Your solutions are very clear, simple and usable on UI ( how Apple was some time ago).

Hotspot functions are must-have things, and we are happy that Unifi Controller is now fully stable and reliable, so it can run 24/7 on windows to authorize new guests with their vouchers.

I see that in the US your prices are moderate, and that is a very good strategy. (In poorer EU countries (eg. Hungary) it is very hard to get your items, and they are at a very high price compared to the average salary, but that is another story unfortunately...... )

I am not an expert, but very familiar to Unifi software, because I follow every (beta) update since version 3.

And finally a few questions, maybe someone answer here.
Is it possible to make a wifi Guest network with no hotspot authentication, but with radius authentication? Besides I also want to have a corporate network (lan and wlan) (in which clients can see each others, eg. network printers). Is it possible with 1 USG and some UAPs without USW?

I also would like to change UAP's default LED colours, green to orange and blue to white. I know it is not officially supported on UI, but it easily could be!

by
2 weeks ago

Why a company driving explosive growth in the outdoor Wireless Internet Service Provider Industry would risk diverting their focus?..................

In our humble opinion as a small rural WISP; "We've noticed"...........and are still in the process of recovery.

 

Still longing for the firmware stability of pre-MF Worm.....things are improving, but still not back to the reliability and stability of the 5.5.X firmwares.  (AC gear is approaching that pinnacle, but not there yet.)

Respectfully, we just thought Mr. Pera would want to know.

 

by
2 weeks ago

More blinky lights, customers love blinky lights

by
Thursday

Keep disrupting please Ubiquiti, there are deployments out there with >30k AP's with very comfortable vendors, making very comfortable margins whilst being completely stagnant with their product.

 

You need to get some visibility at Gartner to make some true corporate inroads.