Home Networking Draws Interest from US Households

More than 17 million US households, about 37 percent of PC households, are interested in home networking, according to a survey of more than 2,000 PC households in the US by The Yankee Group.

More than half of the households in the survey with more than one PC were attracted to the concept of home networking, the connecting of any devices or appliances in the home for the purpose of transporting or sharing information.

“While the market is still rather new and not yet well understood by consumers, these findings suggest there is pent-up demand for consumers to share applications such as high-speed Internet access, video and audio content, or a common home printer,” said Yankee Group VP Boyd Peterson. “Interest levels this high for such a new product speak well for the upside potential of this market.”

Sixty-eight percent of the households that responded to the survey have more than one family member who uses the Internet, and report instances where more than one family member wants to get online at the same time. Among other things, home networking would allow households to share Internet access among several PCs, allowing several members of a household to surf the Internet simultaneously through a single connection.

“Home networking is about tearing down the technological walls that prevent accessing the full benefits of distributed computing to the home,” Peterson said. “Furthermore, consumers are increasingly interested in enabling the benefits of networking they experience in their business environments within the home.”

The market for home networking products will depend on some of the following factors: the development of compelling applications, consumer education on the benefits of home networking, and the availability of easy-to-use and install, cost-effective home networking solutions, said Yankee Group senior analyst Karuna Uppal.

“The key challenge for companies offering home networking solutions is to bring the right mix of product functionality to the right group of users,” Uppal said.

The survey respondents who showed the greatest interest in home networking were multi-PC households, Internet users, PDA users, work-at-home families, and households with home theaters. The killer application for home networking was sharing dial-up or high-speed Internet access, with about 34 percent of respondents showing high interest in each application. Other desired applications include printer sharing, sharing of video, audio content, and multi-user gaming.

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