This year is set to be a big 12 months for the home networking market, according to analyst group IDC.
The market has been stifled to date by the lack of broadband penetration in Australia. The analyst group described the local home newtorking market as still in its embryonic stages. But initiatives such as Telstra’s Broadband ADSL Home Wireless and OptusNet DSL could potentially increase awareness of the benefits of deploying a home network and sharing a broadband connection, IDC said.
Also, worldwide players such as Cisco’s Linksys and Microsoft plan to increase their participation in the Australian market this year.
This will create strong competition for current players Netgear, Belkin and D-Link, IDC said.
The home networking equipment market is currently highly fragmented, with a diverse selection of brands, which can cause confusion among customers. But Microsoft is likely to have an impact when they launch their home networking products here, as consumers recognise the Microsoft brand, according to IDC.
It may be some time, however, before Microsoft does launch its networking products in Australia. While Microsoft launched its Wireless G home networking products in the US in September 2003, they are yet to announce an Australian launch date. These products include connections for desktops, laptops and the Xbox.
“The local subsidiary is working on go-to-market strategies for the products in Australia, but there is no concrete launch date set,” said a spokesperson for Microsoft Australia.
Cisco will face some challenges in establishing Linksys in Australia, the analyst group said. Despite Linksys enjoying a position of market leadership in the US, to date it has suffered from low brand recognition in Australia.
Cisco’s channels have also been more focused on the enterprise than the consumer market, IDC said.
“Relationships with the broadband service providers and retail channels are crucial for the success of home networking vendors,” said IDC telecommunications analyst, Susan Vidal. “The vendors that can create and maintain relationships are the ones that will win the market leader position,” she said.