SAN JOSE, Calif. Tomorrow's home networks will be shaped by a race to bring the Web to digital home products and the rising influence of service providers, according to a market watcher in an online talk.
More than 350 million households worldwide will have some form of home network by 2013, many focused on video-on-demand services, predicted Kurt Scherf, principal analyst at Parks Associates in a Webinar Thursday (August 27). By contrast, the biggest application for today's home nets is printer sharing (49 percent) followed by file sharing (35 percent), he said.
"It's surprising that we still see relatively limited use of even these basic home networking features," Scherf said.
The vast majority of today's nets are based on Wi-Fi routers bought at retail, but service providers are driving adoption of wired links as they deploy residential gateways. Parks predicts residential gateways will grow from use in about a third of networked homes at the end of 2009 to use in about half of all home nets in 2013.
"Wi-Fi remains king, but wired especially powerline networks will come on stronger as service providers bring gateways into the picture and we see a rise of video services," Scherf said.
As the mix of networks shift, the systems riding them are in an all-out race to deliver links to the Internet creating an "overwhelming variety of solutions," he said.
"The question is who will create the secondary or tertiary devices that will connect to premium services beyond the set-top box and residential gateway," said Scherf. "I think there will be strong movement by service providers to link platforms together, and we will see online video growth through connected TVs," he added.
Connected TVs, cloud-media set-tops see biggest growth.
Click on image to enlarge.
Beyond the set-top or gateway, videogame consoles represent the biggest group of Web-linked systems in the digital living room today with about 15 million installed worldwide. "The big change in connected consumer devices is in cloud-media set-top boxes," he said, referring to systems such as AppleTV and the Roku and Vudu video players bought at retail that sport their own links to Web-based video libraries.
Sales of such Web media systems will rise from about 6.6 million in 2009 to 10.5 million next year, Parks estimates. However, 82 percent of users told Parks they prefer getting video services through a traditional TV provider's set-top, potentially limiting growth for retail systems.
Meanwhile, Internet-connected TVs are also on the rise from estimated sales of 2.4 million sets in 2009 to seven million in 2010. The percent of HDTVs sold with Web links will rise from three percent in 2009 to 25 percent of all HDTVs sold in 2013, he added.
So far, user demand for traditional video-on-demand services far outweighs desire for interactivity.
Forty-four percent of users told Parks they want access to VoD from their TV, but only 23 percent said they want to access the Web. When asked about advanced features on Blu-Ray drives, 35 percent of users said they wanted VoD but only 17 percent wanted Internet content.
Users want video on demand much more than links to the Web.
Click on image to enlarge.
Where ever the media comes from, Parks sees the need for storage on home networks rising ten-fold from 2009 to 2013 to more than a terabyte. That will drive sales for home servers and network-attached storage devices, Scherf said.