What the networked home really costs

After three market research conferences and the broadcast industry conference, I’m ready to unveil to resellers who may be interested in the home integration market a plan for the next three years and … it’s all digital!

In the perfect world envisioned (and promoted) by Intel, Cisco, IBM,

HP, Sony, Panasonic and others your home is — or will be shortly — fully networked with a central PC that holds, manages and distributes all your content to friends and family.

Look at the forecasts: (NOTE: first percentage is for 2003 and the next percentage is for 2007)

Broadband to the Home 21 per cent 47 per cent

Satellite subscribers 21.6M 27.6M

Consumer PC Shipments 20M 27M

PC households 82M 105M

Home Networks 13M (12.7 per cent) 34M (30.3 per cent)

PC Gamers 77M 113M

DVR 1M 14M

Digital TV in homes 20 per cent 45 per cent

Source: IDC

Isn’t this beautiful? You shoot digital video on the weekend, have your PVR save your favourite shows, edit/store your video and then send it to your partner and kids so they can enjoy it. Oh yes, they go on their systems and access the TV program library and watch the shows they missed (without the ads to interrupt) or they listen to their favourite music while they read.

Now look around your home. You’ve probably got two or three PCs of various vintages. We say this because if you’re spending time with this article you’re more technically advanced than the general population. If you have a network, it is fibre you’ve run between the systems. What do you do with the network? You share the bandwidth, share printers, share files and work/study (in that order).

Ahead of the Crowd

You’re different from most of your neighbors because you are interested in images, but according to a recent IDC study 54 per cent of the population don’t even have a camera or camcorder. But you convinced your partner right after you started using your analog camcorder that you needed a digital still camera and you either have or are working on getting a digital camcorder.

You were one of the first people to upgrade your cellphone to a cam-phone and have been clicking away like crazy. The photo quality sucks but what the heck? In Japan if a cell phone doesn’t have a camera on it, it can’t be sold. We’re just starting on that cycle.

Digital camera people are staying up late at night trying to figure out how they can beat this movement but the cam-phone is an impulse image device. That means the people who should be worried about their livelihood are the one-use disposable camera firms. You always have your cell phone with you so you want a shot – BAM!

But when you set out to capture moments digital cameras and camcorders win hands down. That will continue because quality and features are rapidly increasing while prices are dropping. But for phones, the camera is a cute little added feature.

Sucking Up Storage

This year we all will have shot about 95 billion images. It is estimated that in 2007 we will shoot about 210 billion images. That’s a lot of SD cards.

The numbers have gotten so huge for camcorder video we’re already measuring the volumes of captured video in years. This year camcorder users will capture an estimated 40,500 years of video. In 2007 we will capture an estimated 68,000 years of video.

Out of curiosity are you doing your part? How many hours of video do you capture per month? No wonder you buy your recordable DVD media on spindles.

Home Network Reality

Because real home networks require either a) A ton of time and patience or b) A certified network installer – your network will probably continue to be what is technically called a sneaker net – make a CD or DVD copy and take it from your PC to someone else’s system or DVD player. For all of the hopes and dreams of a centralized family photo/video library, one vital piece is still missing – digital asset management software.

A number of these products were shown at the broadcast trade show but they cost $5,000 – $30,000 and are designed to manage content in huge digital libraries that hold up to 10 terabytes of content but were priced starting at $20,000. What you want is a small digital library such as the one Pioneer for about $1,000 and a $50 piece of software.

Then you’ll be able to tell what’s on those beautiful CD and DVD discs without having to fast-forward each one. You’ll be able to find the specific disc in a minute or less and almost instantly go right to the images or video segment. Cool!

Yes you did read correctly CDs and DVDs. Your DVD burner by the end of the year may write double layer +R or —R but more than likely it will be a16x burner that will write to CD-R as well as DVD+/-R … fast and cheap. Just don’t skip the media quality.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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