Business team meeting_shutterstock_125338145We thought you might be interested in hearing more about Cybernet from one of its founders, so here is the interview that our main blogger conducted with Ali Bagheri, Senior Vice-President of Cybernet Manufacturing. We’ve put this together in a question and answer format, and at the end invite you to submit questions of your own. Enjoy!

Q: In general, where is the All-in-One PC business (and Cybernet) headed?

A: Cybernet has had a long history with developing all-in-one PCs, and we’ve maintained that as our focus from the very beginning. The challenge with being a pioneer in the industry is whether others will jump on the bandwagon or you have to do it alone. In our case, larger companies like HP and Dell did – about 10 years after we started. That clearly validated our vision, our technology and the all-in-one trend. These days, with the emphasis on energy-saving and space-saving technology, that trend continues – especially in the healthcare market or with office space in general continuing to shrink. As more end users and IT managers and C-level execs see this trend, they’ll be on board. Based on what we see in the press and in the news, I think over the next 5 years, at least 50% or more of the PC demand will be for all-in-one solutions.

Q: How did Cybernet get started; how did the idea evolve?

A: It started with the Commodore keyboard computer. It wasn’t powerful, and it wasn’t PC-based, just a basic CPU – chunky and big. There were PCs in this form in those days; the Commodore was based on the architecture of the time. In 1981-2 when PCs evolved, no one picked up on why all this hardware and these cards had to take up so much space. No one thought about integrating it all. So, the idea was: with a computer system, you must have a keyboard and you must have a display; why not integrate them together? So that’s what we designed, and it became the direction of the company going forward. We would design a line of all in one space-saving computers.

Q: What impact did this technology trend have on your business: Moore’s Law about greater processing power on smaller and smaller chips?

A: It’s like Cybernet and Intel were moving hand in hand. We continued to design the smaller packages, and we have been an Intel house from the beginning. That gave us access to Intel’s roadmap, and that in turn shaped our R&D. We refined our ideas as they continued to develop more powerful processors. The size of the chip didn’t matter so much and didn’t impact our all-in-one hardware designs, but what it meant was more power on the chips, and the application and operating systems required more and more power. Without the right processor to handle the software demands, hardware can become obsolete. We kept up with the demands by using the latest Intel processors and chipsets.

Q: What impact did this technology trend have on your business: smaller form factors, laptops, smaller PCs in general – AND, the movement from CRT to LCD displays?

A: It’s not so much the portability factor like you’d get with a laptop, but it’s the ease of installing, maintaining and supporting the computer. PC towers at the beginning didn’t have integrated cards and it made troubleshooting more difficult. We integrated all the peripherals including video, NIC and more on the motherboard, so it’s much easier to find and fix problems.

Going from CRT displays to LCD displays really opened up the field for all in one computing and validated the idea of space-saving on a desktop. In 1998 or 1999 when LCDs first became available, they were very expensive – like $1000 each or more – and they were expensive to work with. Only C-level execs could afford them. Then, when the price dropped, we started integrating a computer into an LCD. The first one was the iOne-M661, which became available in 2004 – around the same time that LCD displays became more affordable.

Q: What’s your overall business philosophy; efficiency? Controlled growth?

A: We’ve always had a very conservative approach to business. Even during the dot com era when it was very easy to make money, we kept it conservative. We’ve never over-hired just because we could, and consequently, we’ve never had any layoffs, even during the economic downturns. Our approach to expansion is conservative. We take our time and we don’t announce 6 or 7 products every year just for the sake of populating our website. We do a lot of research, listen to our customers, and put a lot of thought into our development efforts. We think through our product designs. This has led to our success and enabled us to survive. Many companies of our size (400 employees) haven’t experienced growth, but all of our growth has occurred in the last 7 years – despite the economy.

Q: What’s your philosophy regarding customers?

A: The customer is the boss. They dictate what we do and how we do it. We listen to their needs and that’s how we move forward. Without our customers we don’t exist. That’s true of all manufacturers; we have to do that. I think customer service and post-sales support are even more important than the initial sales. That plays a big role in whether customers will come back.

Q: What’s your vision for Cybernet going into the future?

A: We plan to continue along the same path – to focus on what we do best and not be the answer to everything. What’s made us successful is developing our core technology and that’s what our customers expect from us; staying ahead of the curve. Tier 1 manufacturers have lots of products and they can afford to drop a product line or two if necessary. The fact that other large companies now offer similar technology serves to validate our market, but we have the edge due to our singular focus on all-in-one PC technology. That is our core business.

Have any questions you’d like to ask Ali Bagheri about this business or the company? Please submit questions or comments on this post, and we’ll do our best to address them.