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An Application Centric View of Digital Homes

Simplicity, by design, is a recurring theme in my innovation advocacy for user interface enhancements to personal computer (PC), home networking and consumer electronics (CE) devices.

So, why the ongoing mantra? Our thinking must evolve regarding market segmentation. The digital home concept was originally centered around device technology, then a product orientation -- next is meaningful mainstream applications. That's why.

It's my belief that digital home market development can't proceed until we cross this chasm. Some believe that better consumer education is required to bridge the void. Broader awareness and articulate product insights help, I agree, but neither is going to stimulate demand like a series of engaging consumer application scenarios.

Ultimately, superior UI designs will enable renewed momentum. Word-of-mouth evangelism then acts as the accelerator to share emotional connections with applications that touch people's lives in meaningful ways. That's why.

The emerging phase in home networks is a 'multimedia network' that blends in new CE devices, and although early-adopters have been testing first generation networked media devices, these devices are still far away from the more mainstream digital home, according to In-Stat.

In fact, the high-tech market research firm reports that about two-thirds of those with home networks in the U.S. still only use them to share Internet access and have no other devices connected to their networks, not even PC peripherals.

"Consumer awareness of the new breed of networked media devices (CE media servers, media adapters, and other networked CE devices) and Media Center PCs needs improvement," says Joyce Putscher, In-Stat analyst. "The good news is that In-Stat research shows that there is considerable consumer desire for using digital content stored on PCs elsewhere in the home."

In-Stat's market study found the following:

- The worldwide market for basic media server shipments to be placed in home networks within one year is expected to grow by 62 percent from 2005 to 2010.

- The worldwide market for enhanced media server shipments to be placed in home networks within one year is expected to grow by 57 percent from 2005 to 2010.

- Growth for home networks with at least one PC and at least one networked CE device will approach 100 percent over the same time frame.

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