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Networked Media-Server Mix Seen Changing

The number of home media servers sold in the United States will quintuple from about 11 million in 2006 to almost 50 million in 2010, and the market will move slightly away from media-server PCs, Parks Associates said in a new report.

Multimedia PCs will account for about two-thirds of media servers sold to consumers in 2006 but only about half of unit sales in 2010, VP Kurt Scherf told TWICE.

The study defined media server as a hard-drive platform incorporating media-sharing software and home-network connections. The devices “will enhance [consumers’] home media experience and offer safeguarding and storage for their digital content,” Scherf said.

Other types of servers in the mix include network attached storage (NAS) servers, set-top media servers and so-called “high-end” media servers, which are typically sold through custom-installer channels, Scherf said. The latter models feature large hard drives with up to terabytes of storage capability “to aggregate and display a large amount of audio and video content,” he explained. “These systems are typically designed to complement other rack components in an entertainment system via a controller and via A/V and serial connections.”

Some high-end servers are dedicated audio-only servers, which will constitute 10 percent of media server unit sales in 2006 rising to 17 percent in 2010, he forecast.

“PC and CE manufacturers that incorporate media server functionality into their platforms will improve their margins and be able to attach new services and applications — including IP-delivered content — to their products,” he continued.

Increased competition among cable companies, satellite providers and local telephone companies, the report said, “will spur the rise of set-op media servers that allow users to access stored content and services from multiple locations, both in and outside the home … to improve customer loyalty and create new opportunities to build revenue through enhanced services.”