Annual sales of home media servers will reach nearly 50 million units in the US by the end of 2010, according to Parks Associates.

A new report 'Media Servers: Analysis and Forecasts' finds that demand- and supply-side drivers will spur dramatic sales growth. The report defines a media server as a hard drive-based platform with media sharing software linked via a home network.

"Consumers will benefit from the capabilities and features provided by home media servers, which will enhance their home media experiences and offer safeguarding and storage for their digital content," said Kurt Scherf, vice president and principal analyst, Parks Associates.

The market for hard drive manufacturers and technology vendors in home networking and storage will grow as a result of the burgeoning popularity of the product category, they explained.

Competition between cable, satellite, and telecoms operators will spur the rise of set-top media servers that allow users to access stored content and services from multiple locations, both in and outside of the home, the report observes.