cat55.jpgNearly one fifth of urban household respondents in top-tier Chinese cities have a home network, according to a recent consumer survey by In-Stat.

That's
a startling figure as home networks have traditionally been seen as a
technology for two-PC households in the affluent west.

Home
networks underpin the “digital home”, a concept in which consumer
electronics, computers and, more fancifully, domestic appliances can be
linked together.

IT and consumer electronics companies have been
peddling this concept for years but it has only recently started to
gain traction in the west with the spread of broadband internet use and
the proliferation of digital devices and content.

Chinese
consumers arrived late to the party and have been spared this long
learning curve. But the “ecosystem” for China's home digital
entertainment market is almost in place and the prospects look
promising. According to Rebecca Tan, In-Stat analyst:

The China home networking market has passed the difficult initial stages and has begun to take off.”

The
research firm is less optimistic on China's second-tier cities, but
overall In-Stat finds that one quarter of survey respondents may
install a home network within the next year.

Whether they can
get it working properly is another matter. I have to agree with
In-Stat's recommendation that there is a big gap in the market for
independent service providers that can provide home networking
integration services.

Anyone who has tried to navigate through
the minefield of home networking connectivity technologies and related
technology standards knows it's not for the faint-hearted.

I
have learnt to take surveys regarding technology trends with a large
dose of salt and getting meaningful data on China is particularly
problematic.

Nevertheless, China already has the world's largest
cable TV market, and I would predict that the combination of a upscale
construction boom, growing broadband usage, and a youthful and
entertainment-loving urban middle-class create the right conditions for
China to embrace the digital home much faster than has happened in the
west.

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