Sears, Roebuck & Co. enters home networking market

The retailer announces a partnership with IBM spinoff Home Director to sell products that connect PCs, appliances, and other electronic gadgets in the home.

Sears, Roebuck & Co. is entering the home networking market.

The retailer on Friday announced it has partnered with IBM spin-off Home Director to sell products that connect PCs, appliances and other electronic gadgets in the home.

With the move, Sears is hoping to tap into the emerging home networking market that is expected to explode in the coming years as more consumers get high-speed Net access and want their home electronic devices to be linked via the Internet. That way, a homeowner can use a PC in the bedroom to turn off the oven in the kitchen, for example.

Home Director builds a new home appliance, called a residential gateway, that allows consumers to securely connect their electronic devices, such as PCs and security systems, to their phone service and high-speed Net access.

The IBM spin-off also sells software that allows people to create more telephone lines within the home, stream music throughout the house and view live shots of their home security cameras from any Net-enabled device.

Home Director targets new homes and has previously struck deals with land developers. Sears, which has 860 department stores, said the company will offer the home networking products to home builders in Atlanta and Denver first, before making them available nationwide.