Proving once again that a commitment to research will get you ahead in the technology sector, wireless-networking expert Atheros Communications (NASDAQ:ATHR) just reported another whopper of a quarter. Annual revenue growth of 56% and record profits show the company's success.

Atheros is a long-standing leader in Wi-Fi networking, and it remains an innovator and significant contributor to industry standards, even in the company of larger rivals such as Intel (NASDAQ:INTC), Texas Instruments (NYSE:TXN), and Broadcom (NASDAQ:BRCM). Research and development account for 64% of the company's operational expenses, even as the sales force scales up to get the products out the door.

All of that said, I'm a little bit confused to see Atheros doing the lobster-walk in some respects. The latest new product announcements have been of the more traditional wired variety, including gigabit and lower-speed Ethernet switches. The idea is to give customers a full range of machinery to run the entire network, and it does make sense to apply some of the in-house protocol expertise to new markets.

Is Atheros reinventing the wheel just to get into a commodity market? I don't know, and it will be a while until we can tell how this play works out. But as long as the 802.11n train keeps rolling, Atheros will do just fine, whatever side projects it decides to pursue.

Further Foolishness:

Intel is a Motley Fool Inside Value pick, and Atheros a Motley Fool Hidden Gems selection. Try out either service free for 30 days.

Fool contributor Anders Bylund holds no position in any of the companies discussed here. You can check out Anders' holdings if you like, and Foolish disclosure will make your day, every day.