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Dedicated Music Servers Enter Digital Home

Music servers in use today are mostly general purpose consumer PCs, but there's an opportunity growing over time in the dedicated music server market. Dedicated music server hardware revenue is expected to grow to $3.2 billion worldwide by the end of 2012 according to ABI Research.

"Many of the necessary forces are beginning to come together to enable the move of networked audio beyond the early adopter market, and networked audio servers will stand to benefit, says research director Michael Wolf. "Standards-based software and lower costs on mass storage, as well as dedicated off the shelf processors that enable networked media solutions are becoming a reality."

The desire by consumers to connect and deliver music around the home has been dampened by the difficulty of setting up and connecting existing solutions as well as the high cost. Industry-wide efforts for networked entertainment in the form of DLNA and other advances will help this effort, as will more large vendors entering the market for networked audio.

As easy-to-use solutions for centrally storing a consumer's content arrive in the form of attractively priced consumer electronics media servers, more consumers will begin to adopt these products.

The early market ascendancy of high-priced proprietary solutions will begin to make way for products targeting digital music enthusiasts who want to take advantage of the technology but don't want to invest thousands of dollars. These solutions will capitalize on the new enabling technologies that make lower prices and wider interoperability a possibility.

ABI's market study describes use-case scenarios for networked home audio, analyzes market drivers and inhibitors, forecasts market growth, and identifies key players in this new sector.

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