The Top 10 Best-Selling Access Points By Brand

The Best-Seller List

Thanks to trends like BYOD and the consumerization of IT, wireless is no longer just a perk for businesses -- it's an essential. And that's why, for networking vendors, getting a foothold in the wireless access point (AP) market is a crucial move.

Based on data from The NPD Group, a Port Washington, N.Y.-based market research company that provides data from leading technology distributors, the following slides represent the "Top 10" best-selling wireless AP brands of 2013. The data is based on the percentage of AP units shipped from distributors from January to December 2013. The NPD Group's Distributor Track sales database is comprised primarily of U.S. Global Technology Distribution Council members.

10. SonicWall

SonicWall, the network security and data protection specialist snapped up by Dell in 2012, rounded out NPD's list of the best-selling access point brands in 2013, representing 1.1 percent of the total units sold.

SonicWall's flagship AP line is its SonicPoint-N Series, which marries high-performance 802.11n wireless technology with SonicWall's security DNA. These integrated APs offer a robust set of security services, including Dell SonicWall Wireless Guest Services (WGS), for enforcing the use of a password for wireless guest access. The APs also can be used alongside the Dell SonicWall family of firewalls to help organizations monitor wireless traffic just as closely as they can wired.

9. D-Link

D-Link's range of wireless APs for both large enterprise and SMB customers helped it secure the No. 9 spot on NPD's list and accounts for 2.2 percent of the total AP units sold in 2013.

D-Link's portfolio consists of the DWL-6600, an AP it says is ideal for businesses small and large, and for handling voice and voice applications, thanks to its support of Wi-Fi Multimedia Quality of Service. The company also offers an AirPremier AC1750 AP for small to midsize businesses that supports the latest 802.11ac wireless standard.

8. Enterasys Networks

Enterasys Networks, acquired in September by Extreme Networks, claimed the No. 8 spot on NPD's list, with a 2.4 percent share of the total AP units sold.

When Extreme announced plans to scoop up Enterasys last year, it was Enterasys' robust wireless portfolio that Extreme saw as a game-changer for both itself and its partners. Enterasys has a full lineup of both indoor and outdoor wireless APs, including the IdentiFi AP3715, a 900-Mbps AP with redundant data ports and multiple power options, features Enterasys says make it ideal for high-density environments like conference venues or hospitals.

7. NetGear

NetGear was the seventh best-selling AP brand in 2013, with NPD pegging NetGear's share of units shipped at 2.5 percent.

What makes NetGear's AP lineup unique is its range, with devices designed for the enterprise, midmarket companies, and even small and home offices. At the higher end, there's the ProSAFE Business Wireless line, including single- and dual-band access points designed, as NetGear says, with a "complete set" of enterprise features. At the lower end, there's the SOHO Wireless family of APs, designed to be simple to use and quick to deploy.

6. Meru Networks

Accounting for 2.7 percent of the AP units sold in 2013, Meru Networks nabbed the No. 6 spot on NPD's list.

Meru last year refreshed its AP portfolio with the launch of its AP832, the Sunnyvale, Calif.-based company's first AP to support the next-generation 802.11ac -- or 5G -- wireless standard. The device, like all 802.11ac gear, is meant to help organizations better accommodate the growing number of mobile devices and bandwidth-hungry applications being deployed on their networks. The AP832 also has a unique, single-channel architecture that Meru says makes it higher-performing and less prone to interference than competing, multichannel APs.

5. Apple

When most people think "Apple," it's the iPhone or iPad that first comes to mind. But the tech giant also touts some impressive APs, and claimed the No. 5 spot on NPD's list.

Apple, which accounted for 3.7 percent of the total AP units shipped last year, recently refreshed its flagship AirPort Extreme AP. And what makes it stand out, like most Apple devices, is its design. The new AirPort is only 3.85 inches wide, giving it a 64 percent smaller footprint than the prior-generation version. It's also taller than its predecessor, a detail Apple says creates a higher platform for dispersing a signal, along with an overall better performance.

4. Hewlett-Packard

Hewlett-Packard secured the No. 4 spot on NPD's list, with its brand accounting for 4.1 percent of total AP units shipped.

HP access points are designed primarily for larger enterprise organizations. Many of them, including the HP MSM-802.11n, come with built-in spectrum analysis capabilities for identifying any source of interference -- whether coming from a Bluetooth, a cordless phone or even microwave oven -- and then automatically adjust to avoid that interference. The MSM-802.11n also features robust load-balancing and automatic power adjustment capabilities.

3. EnGenius

NPD listed long-range wireless specialist EnGenius Technologies as the No. 3 best-selling AP vendor in 2013, accounting for 5.5 percent of AP units shipped.

EnGenius in January introduced its EAP900H, a dual-band indoor AP the company says is capable of getting a signal through walls, ceilings, floors and pretty much any other type of structure in its way. That feature, EnGenius says, makes the EAP900H ideal for hotels, hospitals, universities and other multibuilding environments. The device also is designed to support large file transfers and HD media streaming, allowing users to watch videos or share documents, no matter how far they roam.

2. Aruba Networks

Aruba Networks was the runner-up on NPD's list, with its APs representing 13.8 percent of the total units shipped last year. It's a jump up for Sunnyvale, Calif.-based Aruba, which last year accounted for 10.7 percent, according to NPD's data.

Aruba made several updates to its AP lineup in 2013, many of them with partners in mind. In addition to the launch of its new 802.11ac 220 Series of APs, Aruba introduced Aruba Central, a cloud-based management platform that lets solution providers manage customers' wireless infrastructures, including APs, as a service.

1. Cisco

Despite growing competition from smaller Wi-Fi specialists, Cisco maintained the top spot on NPD's list, with its APs accounting for 36.8 percent of the total units shipped. The networking giant did, however, lose a few percentage points compared to 2012, when it accounted for 39.5 percent, according to NPD.

Cisco has a long lineup of APs, including the newly launched Aironet 700W series, which provides integrated wired and wireless support. Cisco last year also leveraged the Wi-Fi technology it gained through its Meraki acquisition to create a new cloud-based management platform and dashboard for partners.