3Com Promises More Flexible MDF Program

James Fieger, senior vice president of worldwide sales and service for 3Com, Marlborough, Mass., said the company planned to spend "north of $10 million" on the effort.

Through the campaign, Fieger expects 3Com to pass more leads to channel partners and create improved tools and more ways for partners to spend marketing dollars, he said.

Shaun Steel, sales manager at solution provider Valcom Computer Center, Salt Lake City, Utah, said 3Com sales have been strong, particularly around its WLAN switches and NBX VoIP platform, but said the new campaign would hopefully boost sales further.

A top priority of the new marketing efforts is to spread the word about 3Com's broad technology portfolio, said Jim Freeze, vice president of global marketing at 3Com.

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"North of three-quarters of a billion dollars has been invested in our product portfolio over the last two-and-a-half years. We've heard from our partners: 'You need to tell that story because people aren't aware of the investment you've made'," Freeze said.

3Com's recent investments include over $400 million spent to buy security vendor TippingPoint and a $160 million spent on its joint venture with Chinese networking vendor Huawei Technologies.

Some of those investments aim to further 3Com's drive to reenter the enterprise networking market after exiting it in 2000, a move that damaged the vendor's standing with some channel partners and customers.

One 3Com channel partner, who asked not to be identified, said it remains to be seen whether the vendor can regain its footing. "The profitability is not there the numbers are not there," the partner said.

3Com recently posted a loss of $42 million, or 11 cents per share, for its first fiscal quarter, versus a $35.5 million loss, or 9 cents per share, a year ago. Sales in the first quarter of fiscal 2006 rose 9 percent to $177.6 million from $162.3 million in the year-earlier period.

Freeze said 3Com is taking steps to gain growth in both the enterprise and SMB markets. "We're a very different company than we were six years ago, so we're extremely confident about what we're doing now and the response it will get from partners and customers," Freeze said.