DVD players and digital cameras will be the top two consumer devices worldwide by 2004 as the availability of broadband networks in the home gives them added appeal.
Bruce Stephens, an analyst at IDC, claimed during the company's Directions 2000 conference in San Jose, California, this week that the shipment of such information appliances would outstrip the sale of consumer PCs in the US by 2002.
"The rise of the digital home and compelling supporting systems such as wireless and broadband access will support growth in the industry," he said, adding that the ability for consumers to access the internet using such systems would make them even more attractive.
Global shipments of DVD players will also hit 75 million units by 2004 as prices drop and functionality broadens to include games and internet access. Currently about 100 new movies are being released in DVD format.
However, the market is being inhibited by customer confusion over different DVD standards and encryption policies.
Toy digital cameras such as Barbie branded ones will likewise boost the number of units shipped around the world to 59 million by 2004. Stephens suggested that the ability to distribute images across the internet and the appearance of digital camera processing shops would also drive sales.
Other consumer items likely to make the top 10 list within four years include digital video recorders for televisions that can pause and replay live broadcasts, and MP3 players that receive music downloaded from the internet.
But Stephens warned that the prices of digital video recorders have to come down, and the MP3 industry needs to resolve its security issues and win support from major recording labels before this can happen.
New offerings on the horizon also include in-car navigational systems with web access, and smart devices for the home such as alarm clocks that can control coffee makers.
Stephens concluded: "Most PC OEMs won't figure out information appliances, and consumer electronics companies such as Sony will play a major role. The distribution model will also change as telcos and super-net companies such as AOL Time Warner drive these devices into the consumer space."
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