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Home Media Server Market Gains Momentum

The media server market is gaining significant momentum as large end-user platform vendors release new products across the different product categories for digital distribution and content shifting both in the home and over the Internet.

ABI Research believes that a media server strategy is fast becoming a requirement for platform providers -- both for retail and service provider technology. In an upcoming post, I will share my own observations and perspective about the relevant Intel and AMD initiatives, and I'll identify untapped opportunities.

"The market for networked media devices is seeing significant traction in the second half of 2006, and media servers are key component for the major vendors of platforms for consumer content," says ABI Research director Michael Wolf. "We expect that platform providers will continue their push to integrate capabilities for secure distribution of content over home networks and onto the Internet."

Some key vendor-related developments regarding enabling the media server market:

- Apple's announcement of its iTV media adapter has pushed Apple into the media networking and media server market.

- Sony's recent announcement that its Playstation 3 will be able to place-shift content locally and over the Internet to the Playstation Portable.

- Motorola's Home Media DRV platform and Cisco's media networking initiative are pushing their STB and consumer media platforms further towards whole-home media servers.

- Intel's 'Viiv' program and AMD 'Live' have brought a significant number of new media networked devices to market to enable local and Internet distribution from media server PCs.

Key end-use applications for these media server devices include multi-room Personal Video Recorders (PVR) and place-shifting of content. Companies like Orb and Sling Media, which enable the evolution of PC and set-top box platforms into media servers through aftermarket products, are seeing increased end-user traction as well.

"While consumers are hesitant to take on additional technology that complicates their lives, new and enticing use-case scenarios are steadily increasing adoption of different technologies," said Wolf. "Once media servers provide new ways to consume content, these technologies will see mainstream adoption."

ABI Research's recent study, "Home Media Servers and Entertainment Hubs", examines the positioning of four main device categories -- the PC, the set-top box, consumer electronics and network storage -- as the home media server platform.

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