Parks Associates Blog

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Jordin Sparks and Media Centralization

Now I can confidently say that we've at least made one accurate predication at Connections 2007. JORDIN SPARKS IS THE NEW AMERICAN IDOL. During my session on media centralization and distribution (in another word, multimedia and entertainment home networks), Brian Burch from HP went on record saying if you only learn one thing from this session, it's that Jordin will be the next American Idol. Besides that valuable insight, we also learnt a few other things. The bottomline is despite remaining hurdles, several industry forces are working together to push multimedia networks into consumers' homes. Here are a few highlights:

  • Adoption of multimedia networks or connected entertainment is on the rise. Microsoft has already shipped more than 40 million MCE PCs (including Vista PCs) and more than 10 million Xbox 360s that all come with media center extender functions. All the 400,000 set-top boxes shipped by Digeo have multi-room features built in. The solutions are becoming better, although consumers still have issues. No panelist was willing to give out return rates and number of service calls but apparently that’s still a challenge.
  • HP commented on the reasons for discontinuing its Digital Entertainment Center product. It’s just a chassis form factor for the installer market. HP is not withdrawing from the media center PC market. It is however focusing more on integrating digital media adapter functions into TVs instead of standalone form factors. Centralized storage device is another focus.
  • Consumers are likely to adopt solutions from both retail/device makers and service providers. In the end, whoever makes it easier will gain bigger share. Although DIY solutions might end up saving consumers money, many consumers are willing to pay for multi-room DVR features as a monthly service. Service providers are definitely ramping up their multimedia home networking offerings.
  • DLNA is still important but people are talking about it less since they assume it’s a given. There will still be smaller ecosystems focusing on pieces not addressed by DLNA. Service providers also have their own standards and specifications such as CableHome.

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