Aiming to conquer the Web-enabled communications market, Connect One Ltd. is strengthening its position in the channel by signing with Arrow Electronics Inc.
Though it has just 17 employees, Connect One believes its latest product -- an embedded TCP/IP peripheral device known as the iChip -- meets the requirements of microcontroller and other semiconductor manufacturers looking to add Web-based communications protocols to their products. Arrow's visibility into these top-tier customer accounts won the distributor an exclusive franchise agreement in North America.
"We're going to allow the market to drive total sales through distribution," said Rich Miller, U.S. sales channel manager at Connect One, Kfar Saba, Israel. "Arrow will help us keep projections and forecasts on an aggressive scale."
Miller believes Connect One's biggest challenge is to keep up with the fast- moving market for Web-enabled chips. Introduced last summer, the iChip has been included in reference designs with key suppliers, most notably Philips Electronics NV, whose XAG49 16-bit microcontroller is due this quarter.
"Connect One's products offer faster time-to-market and a significantly easier Internet-enabling process for many of our customers who seek Internet connectivity," said David West, vice president of marketing at Arrow, Melville, N.Y. "iChip complements our product line because it can Internet-enable many of the semiconductors we distribute."
Even with increasing emphasis on the Web-enabled non-PC market, the industry still has a way to go before the market hits the phenomenal growth Connect One anticipates, according to Bob Merritt, an analyst at Semico Research Corp. in Redwood City, Calif.
"It'll probably take three to five years for the technology to take off, but when it does, you can expect approximately a 5 million to 10 million unit market worldwide," Merritt said. "Many of us are running around with the concept that the world is going to achieve this mobile society, but to make it economically feasible, these Web-enabled devices will have to connect to the Internet with TCP/IP. We're not there yet."
Web-enabled non-PC device shipments last year were a relatively low 200,000 to 400,000 units, with most of the sales in North America, Merritt said. Those companies banking on the explosion of Internet-ready MCUs, however, claim the market will be so large as to be practically immeasurable.
One application that could soon enter the home and office is an alarm system that connects to the Internet. If while at work a user's home security alarm is triggered, a notifying e-mail would be sent to the office via a TCP/IP protocol.
"Connect One might have a reasonable solution," Merritt said. "Arrow knows this type of technology is hot and eventually it has to get into the processor."