Analyst tips Xbox to drive home networking

Households on both sides of the Pacific have gone device mad but have yet to connect their multiple PCs and devices into home theatres or networks. However, with Microsoft's Xbox 360 on the horizon, IT resellers need not resign themselves to concentrating on phones, MP3 players and digital cameras just yet.

Released this week, Forrester's The State Of Consumers And Technology: Benchmark 2005 found a massive price-driven increase in multiple device ownership in the US market. According to the report, MP3 player adoption more than doubled to 10.8 per cent of US households, while 15 million US homes bought digital cameras.

According to The 2005 Australian Connected Home Report - produced by Connected Research Services' (CRS) - MP3 players have experienced an even more spectacular increase with 17 percent of households now likely to own MP3 players and digital cameras now owned by almost half.

When it comes to home networks and digital home-theatre systems, uptake is slow by comparison. In the US, Forrester found home networks are likely to double over the next two years from an installed base of about 9.5 per cent. In Australia, 15.4 per cent of homes surveyed had a home theatre installed, with a further 4.5 per cent indicating they were likely to install a home-theatre system in the next 12 months.

"It doesn't sound like much," CRS managing director, Graham Philipson, said. "But, once you do the sums, it is 200,000 Australian homes looking for new home theatre systems in 2005. You can definitely make a case that the digital home will be driven by home entertainment in the next 12 months."

While most of this growth will be focused on the consumer electronics channel, Philipson sees a light on the hill for IT resellers in the form of Microsoft's Xbox 360.

"It's going to be really cheap and powerful so it will turn everything in home networking on its head," he said. "The Xbox will be to home entertainment what the iPod has been to the music industry but it will be bigger.

"It will force the consumer electronics market and computer reseller channel to coalesce."

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