Market research firm
today offered a report that suggested home networks are headed for mass market acceptance. Such mass market use is likely to be driven by the desire to interact with multimedia content via the IEEE 1394 standard, better known to Mac users as FireWire. The new findings come in a report entitled “Multimedia Home Networking: IEEE 1394 and the Competition,” available for sale from Cahners In-Stat/MDR for US$2,495.
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The company based its findings on recent consumer surveys, which showed that audio and video content are the most likely ways that the average consumer will be enticed to set up a home network. FireWire, they said, is the most viable standard for making this happen — although the firm admitted that there are some shortfalls in how the IEEE 1394 standard works that may complicate things.
Senior analyst Brian O’Rourke said that the typical home network in use today is data-based and PC centered. Such systems emphasize conveniences like sharing printers and Internet access, which provide limited interest to average consumers. “However, moving audio and video streams is much more difficult than moving data, as they require a greater amount of bandwidth, and the ability to deliver in real-time,” said O’Rourke.
“With its ability to provide high bandwidth and isochronous data transfer in a peer-to-peer network, the IEEE 1394 standard is perfect for multimedia home networking,” said the company. In this case, Cahners In-Stat/MDR suggested that content delivered via FireWire will not be sent or received using computers, but rather advanced consumer electronics — devices like digital televisions and advanced set-top boxes.
“Currently, the major stumbling block is the limited distance allowed between nodes in a 1394 network,” noted the company. “It has had the effect of limiting 1394-enabled products to a single room, thus rendering it irrelevant as a home networking technology.”
The research firm also cited Fast Ethernet and IEEE 802.11 variants as possible solutions. 802.11b is currently employed as the standard supported by Apple’s AirPort products and other Wi-Fi compliant devices used industry-wide.
The research firm said that “a very small number” of consumer devices will be connected to home networks this year, but it expects the number will exceed 7 million by 2005.