Connecting the Unconnected With Home Networking

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Summary

As consumer electronics goes digital, manufacturers need to deliver a really cost-effective, entertainment-based distribution system. But which one will rise to the occasion and provide the solution?

Table of Contents

Analysis

The world of home networking has two basic problems that it must resolve before it can provide a truly mass-market solution. It offers little value proposition for the consumer, and the different industries targeting this market exhibit an almost inexcusable lack of cooperation. In the Perspective “Home Networking: No Mass-Market Opportunity Yet” ( TELC-WW-DP-0082 ), Gartner Dataquest explores deployments and developments in the data-centric and entertainment-centric home network and clarifies some of the issues causing consumer frustration. The advantages and disadvantages of the various technologies, their chances of success and how companies targeting this market are attempting to resolve these issues are covered in depth.

Home networking is moving from the first phase of simply connecting different peripherals to the second phase of connecting quite different applications, such as the PC, the television and a variety of household appliances.

Gartner Dataquest's Perspective “PCs in the Home: The Future of Entertainment?” ( HARD-WW-DP-0117 ) explores the chances of the PC developing as the center of the home network and how entertainment will play an increasingly important part of the equation in regions and countries where the PC has less penetration. We also discuss the launch of Windows XP and how Microsoft’s latest operating system opens the door tantalizingly on the world of digital entertainment — but only to those with a PC-centric view of the world. Indeed, those looking to XP for some home networking capabilities may be disappointed.

The average consumer is easily confused by all the marketing hype and cannot fully understand some of the important technical issues because of the many technologies used to move data around our homes, offices, cities and even the world.

In Gartner Dataquest's Perspective “Home Networking Technology Overview” ( SEMC-WW-DP-0050 ), we review home networking technologies and a few of the semiconductor industry's developments. We emphasize (as do all the pieces in this Spotlight) the importance of wireless solutions with enough bandwidth to take real-time video. Even in the PC-centric home network, real-time broadcast-quality video will need to be distributed around the home, although broadband deployments in the wider world will have to come first.

Consumer electronics manufacturers are certainly experienced in delivering what consumers want in terms of TV, DVD, CD and the whole range of available consumer electronics. But home networking is one area in which they have not been prominent. Some would say this was a glaring omission from their product portfolio, but it has only been with the recent introduction of digital next-generation products that the opportunity to connect them all into one cohesive system has arisen.

In the Perspective “Entertainment-Centric Home Networking: A Consumer Electronics Solution” ( SEMC-WW-DP-0052 ), Gartner Dataquest looks at some of the recent developments from the consumer electronics industry. We pose and answer relevant and topical questions about how the entertainment-based home network will develop and what kind of applications could evolve from seemingly simple solutions, such as digital set-top boxes (STBs). We also explore the social implications of home networking, such as the "digital divide" and healthcare in the home.

The digital STB is a recurring theme throughout this Spotlight. It will become the broadband gateway or hub of an entertainment-based network for the home. This is not to deny the importance of the PC, but, with the growth in video content from both digital TV and the Internet, the home network will have to cope with an ever-increasing volume of real-time video. We already have broadband equipment that can receive and display broadcast-quality video to consumers. The TV set is already in 1.2 billion homes worldwide and will soon be followed by the digital STB or digital TV set. We have all the elements and are on the verge of connecting the unconnected parts of the jigsaw, to finally form the unified home network.

Features

"Home Networking: No Mass-Market Opportunity Yet" ( TELC-WW-DP-0082 ). Products must be cheaper, easier to use and offer more value. By Ian Keene and Severine Pujol

"PCs in the Home: The Future of Entertainment?" ( HARD-WW-DP-0117 ). Western Europe has little evidence that home networking will drive the home PC market. By Brian Gammage

"Home Networking Technology Overview" ( SEMC-WW-DP-0050 ). Wireless technology is well-positioned for entertainment networks. By Joseph Byrne

"Entertainment-Centric Home Networking: A Consumer Electronics Solution" ( SEMC-WW-DP-0052 ). Consumer electronics offers networked entertainment solutions. By Paul O'Donovan

© 2001 Gartner, Inc. and/or its Affiliates. All Rights Reserved. Reproduction and distribution of this publication in any form without prior written permission is forbidden. The information contained herein has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable. Gartner disclaims all warranties as to the accuracy, completeness or adequacy of such information. Although Gartners research may discuss legal issues related to the information technology business, Gartner does not provide legal advice or services and its research should not be construed or used as such. Gartner shall have no liability for errors, omissions or inadequacies in the information contained herein or for interpretations thereof. The opinions expressed herein are subject to change without notice.

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