Study: Home networking to hit home

Research firm sees growth in DVRs, PC-connected consumer electronics devices, as more broadband users get hooked.

American households that are wired with entertainment networks are expected to more than quadruple within the next few years, a potential boon for companies that have been trying to break into this market.

For most people, home networking means connecting a digital video recorder (DVR) to more than one TV in a home or making a broadband connection from anywhere in the house. Connected entertainment networks, which connect consumer electronics with each other or with PCs, are still largely a novelty. But according to research firm Parks Associates, home networking is set to become much more commonplace, increasing from a current 4 million households to 30 million in 2010.

In a study released Thursday, Parks analysts examined such factors as market demands, physical requirements, and the profiles of so-called early adopters of connected entertainment networks, or those who latched onto the concept of home networking early on. Parks found that consumers with broadband connections were most likely to have networked homes.

"Broadband proliferation is a fundamental driver of connected entertainment opportunities inside the home," Harry Wang, a research analyst at Parks Associates, said in a statement. "But more importantly, better network configuration tools and easy-to-navigate user interfaces will assuage consumers' concerns about setup difficulties or application glitches."

Cisco Systems, for one, is anticipating the growth of connected entertainment networks. Since 2003, the networking giant has acquired home networking gear provider Linksys, cable set-top box manufacturer Scientific-Atlanta, and Kiss Technology, a maker of network-based DVD and DVR players.

Cisco said its home-networking vision is to offer devices that can be connected to the Internet, as well as to other entertainment gadgets in the home. And it plans to offer the networking equipment, such as wireless routers, used to shuttle IP packets of music, video or interactive games throughout the home.

CNET's Marguerite Reardon contributed to this report.

Featured Video
This content is rated TV-MA, and is for viewers 18 years or older. Are you of age?
Sorry, you are not old enough to view this content.

Microsoft leaves Apple in the dust with tablet and laptop innovation in 2015

Will there be one Apple Ring to rule them all? That's what a patent application says. Plus, building the thinnest gadget isn't innovation anymore and Apple just got a reality check from Microsoft.

by Brian Tong