As content providers continue to move away from physically selling disks of music or video, in favor of selling media online, home users' storage needs are expected to sky-rocket.
Indeed, the worldwide market for consumer network storage will increase from its current nascent state of $305 million in 2006 to nearly $1.2 billion by 2011, according to ABI Research of Oyster Bay, N.Y. Today, less than 4% of home-network owners use any form of network-attached storage, said Michael Wolf, principal analyst.
But that will change.
"[We] see network-attached storage products as a value-added feature that VARs can sell at the time they install a home office/data network," according to Kurt Scherf, vice president and principal analyst at Parks Associates, a Dallas-based research firm.
"Initially, these products will be used primarily by consumers to safely back up and protect their personal digital content and files, but their role will expand to include storing and streaming multimedia — music, video, etc. — around the home," Scherf said.
Parks Associates expects sales of network-attached storage devices to reach 4 million units by the end of 2010.
Storage-hungry applications will grow exponentially, agreed David Wexler, co-owner of The Little Guys, a Glenwood, Ill.-based home cinema, audio-video and network provider. "At some point all the media will be stored on hard drives," he said. "The upside is storage has become cheaper." Vendors — many of which have a history of working with the channel — are developing products designed to meet the home market's price point, reliability and ease-of-use concerns.
In October, for example, Hewlett-Packard Co. unveiled several storage products aimed at the home market. The HP Media Vault is an expandable solution designed to let consumers easily back up and share up to 340 hours of movies, 16,000 hours of music or 500,000 photos across a home network, the developer claims. The HP Pocket Media Drive is a 2.5-inch USB hard drive in 80 gigabyte and 120 GB capacities, according to the Cupertino, Calif.-based developer.
"The digital lifestyle is here," said Todd Bradley, executive vice president, Personal Systems Group at HP, during the roll-out at the Manhattan Center in New York.
In August MSR Development Corp. began shipping BackMaster 4.0, a backup and disaster recovery utility for individual and small business PC users to protect and archive important personal data files, pictures, digital music, emails, contacts, programs and system settings from computer failure or other natural or man-made disaster. One license can be used on up to three systems, said Dudley Westlake, CEO of the Carlsbad, Calif.-based software developer.
The VAR Home Networking Market: