In its first major study published in May 2005, new market research outfit Connection Research Services (CRS) has found massive confusion over standards and connectivity in the emerging market for the digital home.

While Australian are keen consumers of new technology, they have very little understanding of the way different technologies are converging to form the connected home, the survey found.

Most have never heard of structured cabling and many people believe that home automation is all about radio-controlled garage doors.

CRS surveyed more than 1000 Australian households about their use of what it calls "connected home technologies". One question sought information about the installed base of certain device types in the home. More than 60% of homes have more than one TV, but penetration of plasma, projection and CRT screens is still relatively low (less than 10%).

More than 80% of households have a mobile phone, and most have more than one (one household reported eight!). Over three-quarters have at least one computer, and two-thirds are connected to the Internet.

Another question asked about installation and installation plans for technologies such as home theatres and home automation systems. Fewer than 20% of households have a home theatre installed, though this figure rises significantly with household income. So do installation levels of home automation systems, currently installed in around 15% of Australian households.

Another 5% of households are planning to install home theatres over the next 12 months, but plans for home automation and technologies such as networked video, smart lighting and integrated security systems are not nearly so advanced.

A key finding of the research is that structured cabling and home automation are very poorly understood, indicating that the industry has a lot of education to do to ensure take up of these technologies.

One of the most valuable parts of the report examines preferred brands for a range of technologies and equipment. The results are surprising: many well-known brands are not highly rated, while a few newcomers have made significant strides in consumer awareness.

Apple does extremely well as a preferred supplier of laptop and desktop PCs, for example – it actually topped the laptop table, ahead of Dell and IBM – indicating its high brand awareness in the wake of the iPod’s success. Canon rates highest as preferred printer supplier.

Sony is preferred vendor in each of four consumer electronics categories: TVs, DVDs, hi-fi systems and home theatre. Many traditional consumer electronics suppliers are not perceived as leaders in digital entertainment, and brand awareness of many of the home automation leaders remains very low.

The survey says the results indicate suppliers marketing strategies must be intelligently developed and executed. It is not enough to assume that if you build it, they will come – you also have to tell them what it is and how it will benefit them.

Source Computer Daily – Kate Castallari

See also:
Australia – Broadband – Infrastructure
Global – Reference – Broadband – Home Networking

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