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Integrating Online with Home Network Storage

While still small, the home network storage market has more than doubled in the last two years, reports In-Stat. However, two crucial roadblocks for the consumer network storage space are complexity and mainstream user understanding.

"PC-literate consumers are very familiar with USB and Firewire external hard drives that connect directly with a PC," says Joyce Putscher, In-Stat analyst. "But, many are still not familiar with what network storage is and what the benefits entail. Challenges for vendors include offering models with the right combination of features and price points, and educating consumers about the difference between an external hard drive and storage connected to a home network."

I agree that there is an awareness and understanding gap relative to home network storage device usage and potential applications. Furthermore, most people aren't aware of free supplemental or back-up storage and online streaming services, such as Streamload and even Google's Picasa Web Albums.

Non-technical consumers would also benefit from utilizing free software and associated services like Orb Networks that will enable any person to narrowcast their available content -- MyCasting gives the user instant access to photos, music, videos, live television, and other digital content on their home PC at anytime and from any internet-connected device, such as a mobile phone, PDA or laptop.

Broadband service providers could differentiate their offerings by helping all people -- not just early-adopters -- gain the full potential of an otherwise underutilized resource, their broadband Internet connection. The upside opportunity is huge for service providers who acknowledge the need for home network systems integration support.

Recent research by In-Stat found the following:

- By 2009, the 500GB and above segment will see significant demand, but demand for enclosure-only products will be strong.

- In the near term, the North American market will continue to present the greatest opportunities in terms of volume.

- Media serving features that offer a simple-to-use interface will continue to pervade more SKUs, but typically at the cost of other features or a higher price tag.

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