According to ABI Research, in coming years home network connections will no longer be an optional feature for many consumer electronic products, as digital content, social networking and IP services delivered through embedded network connections will be demanded by consumers in the devices they buy. The leading device categories for embedded networking in consumer electronics will shift from the early market leaders—game consoles—to TVs and DVD players. ABI Research forecasts the number for networked TV shipments alone to grow to 60 million total units shipped by 2012, from just 3.6 million in 2008.

“While many TV manufacturers have been evaluating the integration of networking features into devices for some time, only recently have manufacturers such as LG, Sony and HP begun to ship products en masse with embedded networking,” says research director Mike Wolf. “While Japan has had networked TVs for some time, other regions are beginning to receive such merchandise too, as TV manufacturers begin to see the value of future-proofing their products with IP connections.” While portable devices such as portable media players and game consoles will have mostly wireless networking connections such as Wi-Fi, fixed devices such as TVs, set-top boxes and other device categories will have a mix of both Wi-Fi and Ethernet connections.

Overall, Wi-Fi media connections will lead, however, with total Wi-Fi enabled consumer electronics reaching 329 million shipments by 2012. “Networking connections have gone from being ‘nice-to-have’ to ‘necessary’ for some categories of devices such as portable media players and gaming consoles,” concludes Wolf. “We expect that as more devices get tied to content services, other categories will follow the same route and we are already beginning to see this today.” ABI Research’s recent study, “Home Networking and Digital Home Network Market Analysis,” examines all segments of the home networking and networked entertainment market.