According to the latest Strategy Analytics Connected Home Devices research, nearly two-thirds of available networked home devices are now integrated with, or upgradeable to, WiFi connectivity. The survey examined nearly 200 networked home devices from 74 manufacturers in the US, Europe and Japan, including leading consumer electronics brands such as Sony, Samsung, Panasonic, Philips, Sharp, Thomson and Toshiba; PC manufacturers like HP, Fujitsu-Siemens and Gateway; home networking specialists such as Linksys, D-Link, Buffalo and Netgear; and hi-fi specialists like Onkyo, Yamaha and Kenwood. Networked home devices allow customers to get access to their digital music, video and photos in different parts of the home. Popular applications include transferring digital photos from the PC to the TV, or listening to MP3s on a stereo system. “WiFi technology is a natural complement to content sharing in the digital home,” notes Peter King, director for the Connected Home Devices Service. “Our survey suggests that 802.11b and g are the dominant standards so far. 802.11a has so far gained little traction and we expect 802.11n to drive the next adoption wave beginning in late 2006.”

Texas Instruments announced its intention to purchase Chipcon, a leading developer of ZigBee technology, for $200 M. When considered in isolation, this would seem to have little impact on the future of the ZigBee market, but looking a little deeper, it clearly has far more undertones. This move would give a foothold in numerous established and emerging wireless connectivity solutions from WiFi to Bluetooth — and now ZigBee. More importantly, the announcement demonstrates that after a slow start, momentum is building behind the ZigBee standard, with TI joining the ranks of Freescale, Motorola, Samsung and Mitsubishi. The level of support clearly indicates that even with significant issues surrounding the slow time to market for products because of a lengthy standard ratification exercise, this technology will happen in a big way. “The ZigBee standard was ratified last December and ABI Research correctly predicted that the race to market would begin in earnest,” stated principal analyst, Stuart Carlaw. “This purchase shows that the addition of another super heavyweight contender is really heating up the race.”