The digital hub could drive consumers to network their homes, claims analysts In-Stat/MDR.

Consumer interest in audio and video on computers could drive the consumer market to network their homes to make better use of such technologies. The analysts predict that the number of multimedia-equipped homes could increase by 210.7 per cent (compound annual growth interest) between 2001 to 2006.

In January 2000, Apple CEO Steve Jobs became the first in the industry to publicly discuss the concept of the digital hub, focusing his company and its products to leverage that emerging market.

Brian O'Rourke, a senior analyst, said: "Moving multimedia streams is much more difficult than moving data. While most home networks today can carry audio with little difficulty, video requires more bandwidth."

He discussed the competing standards for home networking: "A number of options exist, including FireWire/1394, 802.11x, Ethernet, phone and electrical lines and others. All have strengths and weaknesses for carrying multimedia." The analysts expect homes to use a combination of different standards.

O'Rourke revealed that DVD players capable of accessing computers for video content will be the first mass-market products to appear for the emerging market. Increased adoption of digital and HD TV will drive the market in home environments, he said.

The emerging FireWire 800 standard has a good chance of gaining a slice of this emerging market, observers claim. It offers faster data transmission over longer cables than the FireWire 400 standard, it also offers simplicity and plug-&-play connectivity.

Observers also remark that Apple's Rendezvous technology could help consumers exploit FireWire to build multimedia living environments, with its Zero IP configuration feature.