With Cisco Systems' push to build network infrastructure into new houses, home networking technology will become almost transparent to consumers--as it should be.
Gartner expects 6 million households with built-in network infrastructure by 2002.
In home networking, a fine line exists between what is technically feasible and what people really want to do with technology. Although a video conferencing system that lets family members in different rooms talk to each other is relatively easy to build, it represents a mere novelty, as do other applications such as a refrigerator that updates grocery lists.
Gartner believes that the most attractive (and lucrative) home networking applications will focus on entertainment. To deliver a new generation of entertainment applications to consumers, Cisco and other networking players must establish business and product development relationships with consumer electronics partners because those companies really understand the consumer market.
Cisco has proposed a $15,000 to $100,000 premium for a customized home network. Most consumers, however, will find that cost to be a bitter pill to swallow. The monthly cost for services will make the cost issue even worse. Moreover, such a high cost could significantly limit the number of prospective buyers if the first owner puts the house up for sale.
Lastly, Cisco must provide an upgrade migration path for those installations so consumers will not be left with thousands of dollars of outdated infrastructure equipment that provides only yesterday's service capabilities.
(For related commentary on creating a home network for PCs, see TechRepublic.com--free registration required.)
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