Home networking may not be much of a money spinner for resellers today, but many vendors think it will be, with last week ushering in a slew of networking announcements at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas.
IDC also announced figures showing that home networking would be one of the hottest technology areas in 1999.
Despite Cisco's local managing director Gary Jackson's firm belief that home networking is a technology that will not begin to ramp up in Australia until late next year, Cisco made a number of announcements at CES aimed at positioning itself as a leader in that market. However, it was not alone, with vendors like Sony and Microsoft also showcasing home networking equipment.
Cisco's CEO John Chambers, in his keynote address, said that "consumers would drive the second phase of the Internet revolution".
He demonstrated a live working home network in a mock living room, with all of its appliances and electric infrastructure wired to a network running on the Internet Protocol (IP). Chambers then used a Web browser to control all of the various appliances in the room.
Chambers predicted that networked devices would extend to microwave ovens and that everyone will some day have five Internet devices on their body. He has established a Consumer Line of Business and relationships with 30 companies aimed at bringing networking to the consumer.
Meanwhile, Sony showcased devices which support the emerging IEEE 1394 home networking standard.
Also last week, IDC said that 8 million homes in the US have more than two PCs, but only 910,000 home offices have networks today. By 2002, that number will be 8 million, it said. This growth will see a massive amount of new products released which aim to provide solutions in this area, IDC predicted.
While Cisco is currently ramping up its small business efforts, he sees the consumer market as an altogether different market that is not currently viable.
"The consumer market demands a whole raft of different products, and partnerships with different companies like Sony. These products will have a very different look and feel."