Technology | Media | Telecommunications

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Consumer Network Attached Storage Market

Home computer users save more data than ever before. The phenomenal growth of digital photography, audio, and video has focused consumer minds on the secure storage of their pictures, music, and movies -- raising the profile of backup and media server solutions.

Although most consumers still rely on single-computer backup scenarios, a small but growing number are opting for Network Attached Storage (NAS). While the market is still relatively small, consumer NAS is expected to deliver more than $1.25 billion in revenues by 2011.

"In order to move the consumer NAS market forward," says ABI Research senior analyst Jason Blackwell, "vendors, including leaders, need to educate and inform consumers about NAS advantages."

Consumer NAS equipment falls into three groups:

- Integrated NAS drives, which include the necessary networking software.

- Network storage enclosures, for those who wish to add the hard disk themselves.

- Storage routers and bridges, which allow attachment of standard USB or IEEE 1394 hard drives to a network.

Integrated NAS drives comprise the majority of the market. But, storage routers and bridges offer vendors the greatest growth opportunity.

Challenges in this market have traditionally included consumer's relative indifference to data security: backups have always been considered a pain. Cost has been an issue too: while prices continue to fall, they still pose a barrier to further adoption.

The rise of the home media server market, however, will provide some lift -- DLNA and UPnP-enabled NAS devices can act as media servers and are being branded as such. The fact that NAS devices are becoming more like media servers will certainly help them penetrate the digital home network.

Vendors are making a concerted effort to market NAS for these more exciting purposes rather than simply for backup. In my opinion, improved usability is the key differentiator.