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Media Servers Increasing In Popularity

New consumer research from the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) finds high satisfaction among digital camera owners and a potential burgeoning market for media servers. The surveys found thatsome 84 percent of current owners are satisfied with their digital camera and 53 percent of consumers are interested in having the ability to store music on a PC and listen to it anywhere in thehouse. The surveys were released here Monday during CEA’s annual Industry Forum, which concluded Wednesday. The Industry Forum unites key executives from top technology companies to discuss markettrends, business strategy and the future of the consumer electronics industry.

As a prelude to “Digital Cameras Get Competition,” – a panel session investigating the impact of digital camera phones on the traditional digital still camera market – CEA Senior Industry Analyst Sean Wargo presented the results of CEA’s digital camera survey of online adults. The survey showed that 61 percent of online adults have a digital still camera and that 49 percent consider it their primary camera. Current CEA shipment figures show that 39 percent of total US households own a digital camera.

“With consumer adoption fast approaching the 50 percent mark, it’s important to delve deeper into the satisfaction rates of current owners,” Wargo said. “Through this survey, we are able to determine that image quality and feature sets are what drive owner satisfaction when it comes to digital still cameras and camera phones.”

CEA found that 81 percent of respondents gave portability top marks in terms of appealing characteristics, but image quality has the greatest impact on overall owner satisfaction with 88 percent of respondents putting quality of the image at the top of their satisfaction list. Wargo also noted that 70 percent of current digital camera owners purchased their camera within the past two years and that the average wholesale price per mega pixel has fallen to approximately 80 dollars.

“Ultimately, this research shows us that retail and consumer education are the keys to ensuring a satisfied end-user,” Wargo continued. “Looking at this survey, we see that consumers rely heavily on the retail sales person to lead them to the final sale, yet only 31 percent felt that the retail salesperson was very knowledgeable about digital cameras. Additionally, even though 71 percent of digital camera owners said memory card format was somewhat or very important when it comes to buying a digital camera, 41 percent of these respondents were unsure which memory format their digital camera uses. Education is key.”

Wargo pointed to CEA’s upcoming digital imaging retail training module, sponsored by the Digital Imaging Special Interest Group, as a means to help address these concerns. The module is part of CEA’s CE Know How training certification program for retailers.

“The new training and certification module will provide consumers with the general digital camera awareness they seem to desire and, later, help increase awareness of storage and archiving solutions,” noted Wargo.

In an afternoon panel session on Monday, “Media Servers – Fact or Fiction” Wargo revealed that 38 percent of consumers currently own a media server, either with a desktop or personal computer acting as the server or a dedicated media server. CEA Market Research defines media servers as devices that store of all a consumer’s digital content (music files, home video, digital images) in one location, allowing it to be viewed or listened to from multiple locations in the house.

The survey found that close to 19 percent of consumers indicated they plan to purchase a media server in the next two years. Of those, 49 percent noted they would be somewhat or more likely to purchase a server if a professional could install, set-up and maintain their server.

“The market potential for media servers is real, even as manufacturers seek to define this emerging category and educate consumers about its potential,” Wargo said. “Our survey shows that among the most compelling features for consumers are the ability to store music on a PC and listen to it anywhere in the house – 53 percent agreed or strongly agreed with that statement – and being able to sit in one’s living room and view digital pictures on the TV that are stored in the PC – 42 percent agreed or strongly agreed.”

Wargo also noted that over 85 percent of consumers wanted a media server that stored digital content – movies, music, digital images, home videos – on its own hard drive and 72 percent of consumers wanted servers that could distribute digital content throughout the home.

This release is based on an online survey of 1,298 US online adults in October 2004. Data cited in this release is available for purchase through CEA’s Market Activity Reports and Analysis (MARA) program. With more than 500 reports published annually, the MARA program is recognized as the “authoritative source” for data on the consumer electronics industry. For a list of available reports and purchasing information, visit www.eBrain.org/mara or send an e-mail request to info@ebrain.com.