As the popularity of home networking in the U.S. increases, the demographics of those using the technology are evolving, according to a recent survey conducted by In-Stat/MDR. The high-tech research firm found evidence of increased interest in home networking by nearly all segments of the population, refuting the common perception that their usage is restricted to tech-savvy, early adopters.
“The surge in wireless networking equipment sales, and the availability of low cost home routers to enable broadband sharing shows that this technology is indeed gaining wider acceptance,” said In-Stat/MDR analyst, Jaclynn Bumback.
In-Stat/MDR believes the total percentage of owners who would purchase and install a home network would be higher if they were educated about the benefits. The vendor community has begun, both individually and collectively (through such efforts as the Internet Home Alliance), to educate end-users about the benefits of home networking and broadband. “While we can point to a number of demand drivers, including wider availability of low-cost and easy-to-use networking gear and increased awareness of end-users, perhaps the best way to understand the increased interest is to examine what end-users are using their home networks for,” Bumback said.
In-Stat/MDR’s survey found the following: 42 percent of those with home networks pointed to broadband as the primary application. With the number of broadband users in the U.S. growing to approximately 13 million by the end of 2001, the home networking industry has benefited greatly. This is indicative in the strong end-use demand for affordable broadband sharing devices from the likes of vendors such as Linksys and NetGear. These two vendors alone shipped over 2 million cable/DSL routers in 2001.
The research also shows that the 45-54 age bracket has become the largest segment of the home network owner population as they react to the needs of their tech-savvy late-teen children and home networking products become easier to install and manage. The segment accounts for 28 percent of all home networked households in the U.S.
Of the respondents planning to purchase a home network, 41 percent plan to purchase from a retailer. This is a key opportunity for vendors such as Linksys, D-Link, and NetGear with strong retail presence. 37 percent do not know where they plan to purchase their home network. This indecisiveness indicates a lack of loyalty to any particular channel other than retail.
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