By 2002, an estimated 12.1 million home offices will have multiple PCs, up from 7.8 million in 1998, according to a report by IDC Research.
The Internet will drive the growth of home networking solutions and products. Multiple PC owning households will be faced with the choice of rationing use of the PC with Net access, purchasing an additional telephone line and Internet subscriber account, or investing in home networking products which would facilitate the sharing of Net access between PCs, according to the report.
IDC warns that ease of use will be key to the successful take up of home networking products. Easy to install and maintain applications will dominate over low cost or high performance products.
A study by InfoBeads, a market research subsidiary of giant publishers Ziff-Davis, finds that 50.3 percent of households in the U.S. owned PCs at the end of 1998. In the last year, more than 6 million homes across the U.S. have bought computers, an increase of 5.5 percent over the previous year.
The exponential growth has been attributed to the decreasing price of PCs. PCs have reached critical mass because large manufacturing companies such as Packard-Bell are producing PCs for as little as $600.
The authors of the report acknowledge that the Internet has been critical in fueling the growth in home PC ownership. Despite that, the study found that home PCs are most frequently used for playing computer games, a phenomenon which has marked the growth in PC sales from its genesis.
The study, which is conducted on an annual basis, confirms that the PC is now a regular household item and projects that the number of households with PCs will continue to grow this year. The survey interviewed 50,000 households across the US and included households from all economic strata. Source: Nua Internet Surveys (www.nua.ie/surveys/)