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CEO: 3Com Prepping Small Biz VoIP Onslaught

3Com is planning a small business VoIP push as part of a broader quest to gain SMB market share.

VoIP

"We're planning a major push in VoIP around small businesses, and you will hear a lot more about it in coming weeks," Masri said Thursday during a conference call to discuss the company's first-quarter financial results.

The effort will come as part of a broader quest to gain market share among small and mid-size customers across its product lines, Masri said.

"As a segment if you look at Web-managed switches, etc., we, according to analysts, have about a 12-percent market share, which puts us in the top three," Masri said. "What we have done since I joined last year is to assign a vice president leader to the SMB space, and the other activity that we are undertaking is to take advantage and leverage all of the 120 engineers in H3C [Technologies, 3Com's China-based subsidiary] who are also working in that segment and combine the forces together so we as an entity have a stronger push in that market segment."

3Com has also in recent months refreshed its SMB-focused Baseline and OfficeConnect product lines, he said.

3Com will face formidable competitors in the small business VoIP market, including Cisco Systems, which earlier this year launched its Smart Business Communications System for businesses as small as eight VoIP users. Microsoft is also entering the fray with Response Point, a line of VoIP products for businesses with one to 50 users that will be available later this year through OEM partnerships with D-Link, Quanta Computer and Uniden America.

VoIP solution providers are eager to see the fruits of Microsoft's labors in the VoIP market.

"Response Point is going to be huge. It's going to be a real game-changer," said Don Gulling, president of Verteks Consulting, in a recent interview. Ocala, Fla.-based Verteks' partners include 3Com and Microsoft. "Anything Microsoft gets into, it's got to the marketing dollars to make a big splash."

Microsoft is expected next month to launch other building blocks in its VoIP strategy, including Office Communication Server 2007.

For the quarter ended August 31, 3Com reported a loss of $18.7 million, or five cents per share, compared to a loss of $14.1 million, or 4 cents per share, for the same quarter a year ago.

Revenue for the quarter climbed to $319.4 million, up more than six percent from $300.1 million in the year-ago quarter.

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