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Wi-Fi Moves In

  |  October 4, 2004   |  Comments

Home Wi-Fi networks are proliferating. The unwired are young, affluent, tech-savvy early adopters who want more gadgets and devices.

Wi-Fi is moving into the home. In 2004, over 64 million Wi-Fi systems are expected to be sold, up from 24 million in 2002, according to IDC. That rapid growth will soon accelerate, with home users accounting for much of the surge.

The relatively small home wireless market, 8.7 million households in 2004, will climb to 28 million in 2008, according to a Jupiter Research/Ipsos-Insight Entertainment Technologies Survey (Jupiter Research is a Jupitermedia Corp. division). These households represent a growing segment of young, affluent, tech-savvy, early-adopter consumers. They express interest in Wi-Fi applications beyond the Web, including mobile devices, entertainment, and digital content.

Home Wi-Fi Use
Demographic Home Wi-Fi
Total Online
18 to 24 24% 14%
25 to 34 27% 22%
35 to 44 25% 25%
45 to 54 16% 21%
55 or more 8% 18%
Less than $35K 7% 27%
$35K to $59K 13% 25%
$60K to $99K 49% 32%
$100K or more 31% 17%
Source: JupiterResearch/Ipsos-Insight Entertainment
Technologies Consumer Survey (7/04)

Wireless home network users are more likely than average users to be broadband subscribers, and are more likely to access the Web throughout the house. The living room is the favored access point at 79 percent, which Jupiter Research says indicates increasing integration of wireless with personal entertainment.

A few major Web properties are beginning to adapt to what they see as TV/Web convergence. ESPN.com and Yahoo recently added features aimed at users who are simultaneously surfing and watching TV. Allrecipes.com and Epicurious have modified content for cooks who bring their laptops into the kitchen rather than print out recipes.

Wireless Network Access by Room
Living Room 79%
Kids' Bedroom 42%
Master Bedroom 37%
Kitchen 22%
Source: JupiterResearch/Ipsos-Insight Entertainment
Technologies Consumer Survey (7/04)

Home Wi-Fi users are more interested in portable devices and digital entertainment than average online users. They want to integrate more gadgets into their Wi-Fi network. 97 percent of home Wi-Fi consumers say they regularly carry portable devices that enable them to browse content and consume media such as books and music.

"We spend a lot of time talking about digital ubiquity," says Julie Ask, a Jupiter Research analyst. "It's not just your computer. Not everybody has a phone jack next to every device that needs an update." Ask cites TV listings, menus, and firmware updates for devices as examples of products and services that will become part of home Wi-Fi networks.

Three-quarters (77 percent) of home Wi-Fi users want to connect devices to their PCs, particularly for streaming music (29 percent) and TV (25 percent). Three times as many home Wi-Fi users (20 percent) as non-home Wi-Fi users (7 percent) spent over $5,000 on their primary entertainment system, and 78 percent plan to buy digital home entertainment products in the coming year.

"When I'm talking to consumer electronics makers, I learn about a lot of new [Wi-Fi enabled] products that are coming, even if they haven't made announcements yet," said Ask.

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Rebecca Lieb

Rebecca was previously VP, U.S. operations of Econsultancy, an independent source of advice and insight on digital marketing and e-commerce. Earlier, she held executive marketing and communications positions at strategic e-services companies, including Siegel & Gale, and has worked in the same capacity for global entertainment and media companies, including Universal Television & Networks Group (formerly USA Networks International) and Bertelsmann's RTL Television. As a journalist, she's written on media for numerous publications, including "The New York Times" and "The Wall Street Journal." Rebecca spent five years as Variety's Berlin-based German/Eastern European bureau chief. Rebecca also taught at New York University's Center for Publishing, where she also served on the Electronic Publishing Advisory Group. Rebecca, author of "The Truth About Search Engine Optimization," was ClickZ's editor-in-chief for over seven years.

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