Are we networking our homes

For the past few months, I’ve been collecting evidence about adoption of home networking, and in particular installed base and attitudes. The evidence I found indicates that home networking is progressing extremely slowly, and doesn’t seem to be the natural next step after connecting the home to the Internet with a broadband access.

Two analysts (Diffusion Group and In-Stat) estimate the number of networked homes worldwide to be in the 40M range (respectively 35M in 2004; 50M estimated in 2005). And make forecasts of 162M in 2010 and 200M in 2009, invoking:

growth fuelled by broadband service providers who are beginning to push combined modem networking solutions (RGWs)

In general however, home network penetration remains relatively low even in countries with high broadband penetration such as South Korea (2%), Germany (2%), UK (10%), Japan (16%), US (17%). The US number is corroborated by Forrester Getting home networking into second gear(5-01-05), which speaks of 19% of online households with home network.

Attitudes and motivations related to networking the home are analysed, for the US, in a Harris Interactive Survey (October 2004) of online households (n=699). In the sample, 20% of households have a home network, the main reason being to share a broadband connection, followed by a printer and files.  Those who do not own one consider that they have no need for one. Also price, poor knowledge of the gear, uncertainty about their ability to set the network up are among the reasons invoked more frequently.

A third piece of evidence to understand adoption of home networking comes from Forrester Trends Laptops and home networks transform behaviour (27-05-05), which finds that households with home networks and laptops have a significantly more intense Internet life (spend more time online (+66% than average household), and do more of all online activities), use the Internet from everywhere in the house, and watch less TV.

Forrester surveyed 12.155 NorthAmerican households in December 2004.

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