TP-LINK Targets Aggressive U.S. Expansion, VARs Included

Founded in 1996 in Shenzhen, TP-LINK has the top market share among small office/home office (SOHO) networking vendors in China. It's been in the international market since 2005, and has of late been heavily invested in growing its U.S. revenue, which was $15 million for 2011.

According to TP-LINK, $30 million is a realistic U.S. revenue target for 2012 -- quite a step for a company that has had a full-time U.S. presence for fewer than four years. It has a strong focus on consumer networking, but is also eyeing greater influence among VARs that serve small business customers -- a move that puts it in head to head competition with vendors like D-Link, Netgear and Cisco.

"Our story is just beginning," said Lewis Wu, director of sales for TP-LINK USA, in a recent interview with CRN. "We have a lot to do to build our brand and make consumers and the channel accept our products."

TP-LINK's burgeoning VAR program is aggressive. There are three tiers -- Silver, Gold and Platinum -- with quarterly purchase thresholds of less than $2,000, between $2,000 and $5,000 and more than $5,000, respectively. Straight partner discounts for each tier are 5 percent, but the higher the partnership level, the more access to resources such as technical support, marketing materials and demo equipment.

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Technology-wise, some of its focus is on portable travel routers, next-generation HyFi technology and its Jetstream brand SMB-grade switches, including managed and unmanaged models, though it also specializes in wireless access points, 3G routers, ADSL modem routers, IP cameras, print servers and other tools. Its eight North America distributor partners include Wynit, Ingram Micro, MA Labs, ASI and Moonblink Communications.

"It is a very crowded market on the networking side, especially for routers, so we are trying to find different ways to look at the opportunity," Wu explained. "Travel routers are big. You can take them wherever you go and there is a lot of importance there for business travelers."

TP-LINK, notes Wu, also owns its manufacturing, giving it a component and supply chain advantage over many of its competitors.

VAR recruitment for TP-LINK has been steady, he said, and will continue into the new year. Right now, the important thing is to make networking-focused, SMB-centric VARs aware of a vendor option they may not have considered.

"We are not so picky at the moment, but after we build a larger channel we will be less interested [in recruitment]," Wu said.