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Study Says Networked CE Products To Rule

Worldwide shipments of consumer electronics products with built-in networking capabilities will grow at a compound annual rate of 64.4 percent between 2005 and 2009 to 154.5 million units from 21.2 million, according to a forecast by market research company iSuppli.

By 2009, networked consumer electronics products “will represent a significant portion of overall consumer electronics shipments,” the company said. They will be driven by demand for multiroom Digital Video Recorders (DVRs), the deployment of IPTV, high broadband penetration, the proliferation of digital media files and growing consumer awareness of home networking.

The seven-fold increase will “herald a fundamental change in both the consumer electronics area and in the associated video and audio content markets as networking technology alters the nature of entertainment-oriented devices and how people use them,” iSuppli contended.

The company defined networked CE products as incorporating integrated wired or wireless IP-based home network connections and supporting direct communication with commonly networked PCs, servers, network-attached storage devices and remote Internet content. In iSuppli’s eyes, the devices must also support playback of standard digital media formats, such as MP3, MPEG-2 and JPEG.

Consumer electronics products that incorporate networking technology include cable and satellite set-top boxes (STBs), Internet Protocol TV (IPTV), televisions, DVD players, video game consoles, Digital Media Adaptors (DMAs), home media servers and emerging DVRs with multiroom capabilities. “Multiroom DVR is a key driver for networked video,” said iSuppli’s VP Mark Kirstein. “DVR is becoming pervasive in new cable, satellite and IP STBs. Multiroom DVR is the major media networking trend in the STB markets. With support for multi-stream, high-definition premium video, this technology establishes the high mark for media home networking.”

IPTV deployment of IPTV by telecom carriers will also drive networking, the company said. IPTV will deliver video over broadband and distribute it to home-entertainment devices without adding new wires, thanks to power line and coaxial-media networking technologies, iSuppli said. “Integrated home networking capabilities in IP STBs will compel faster adoption by cable and satellite operators as well,” the company added.

With the rise of networking, consumer electronics products will fall into two categories: media servers and media players. Media servers include all network-equipped STBs with either built-in DVR capabilities or with content and IP-gateway functions to deliver audio, video and other content to other networked devices, iSuppli said. Other server devices include DVR-enabled DVD players and dedicated consumer media servers.

Media players will be the recipients of the server-delivered content and will include networked TVs, DMAs, video game consoles and networked DVD players.