US networking company Netgear, appear to be playing PR roulette after they employed an International PR company to shield their global CEO from IT channel journalists and the bulk of consumer electronics and IT writers, at a press event in Australia where both Apple and Microsoft was criticised for their performance.
The Networking company that is itself under pressure from new networking entrants in Australia, chose to attack Apple and Microsoft to a select group of only six journalists, as opposed to having Lo answer questions from IT channel journalists about the performance of their own networking technolog,y such as their Powerline devices which appear to be interfering with BigPond modems or their Wi Fi modems which Telstra engineers claim are causing problems for MAC PC users.
(I know, because I have had three Telstra supplied Netgear modems, replaced during the past six weeks).
Netgear’s Chinese born, CEO, Patrick Lo, chose to invite only six journalists to his Sydney PR event where he vented his spleen about the industry, in particular the performance of Apple and Microsoft who between the two delivered over $10 Billion in profits in the last quarter Vs $13.1 Million generated by Netgear in the third quarter of 2010. (Netgear report their fourth quarter results on February 8th 2011).
Lo, is the same executive who three years ago appeared at a Netgear CES press conference to spruik his new VoIP phone only to discover that that the all new VoIP phone did not work as claimed.
Since then Lo has chosen not to appear at any CES press conferences.
Using International PR company Weber Shandwick, who was dumped by Samsung Electronics in Australia after just 18 months, Netgear, who appointed the PR company in October 2010, said that the decision as to who would be invited to LO’s Sydney PR event was down to the “PR” company.
Brad Little, the Director of Consumer Channels, said: “All of the decisions re the event were down to Webber Shandwick”.
Little said he did not know why Netgear was not able to organise an all in event for the Lo press conference where the CEO used the conference to have a stab at the track record of Apple as opposed to talking about his own company’s problems.
When asked whether it was a lack of marketing budget, Brad Little said “No comment”.
According to Fairfax Media who attended the briefing, Lo launched into a scathing attack of Apple and its founder Steve Jobs, criticising Jobs’s “ego” and Apple’s closed up products. Lo claimed that Apple’s success was centred on closed and proprietary products that would soon be overtaken by open platforms like Google’s Android.
Lo had no answers as to why Apple was more successful than Netgear or why Apple marketing and products are seen by consumers and the Channel as being significantly superior to those offered by Netgear.
In Australia Netgear has struggled to get their media centre offerings off the ground with several retailers dumping their product last year due to poor sales. The company has also struggled in the VoIP market which is a segment that Lo was telling journalists at CES “Netgear would dominate in”.
Lo, who is trying to present himself as the expert on the IT industry said that Apple’s closed model only worked because, in many product categories like MP3 players, “they own the market”.
According to the SMH, Lo also criticised Jobs’s public thrashing of the Adobe Flash format, attributing it to his “ego”.
“What’s the reason for him to trash Flash? There’s no reason other than ego,” he said.
Asked if he had relayed any of his concerns about Apple’s closed platform to Jobs, Lo said: “Steve Jobs doesn’t give me a minute!”
Not content to bag Apple, Lo who has a questionable track record in the IT industry, also took a swipe at Microsoft, saying he believed the company had fallen behind and that Windows Phone 7 would languish behind Android and iPhone.
“Microsoft is over – game over – from my point of view,” he said.
Late last year Netgear was forced to modify several of their routers due to problems with Windows 7 firewalls. Now problems have emerged with the Netgear Powerline gear, with Telstra engineers warning consumers not to connect the technology which pushes a broadband signal around a home using existing electrical cables.
Patrick Lo was not available to answer any of these questions according to Webber Shandwick executives.