Wi-Fi More Popular than iPod?

By David Needle

July 14, 2006

Most respondents said they'd rather give up their home phones than home network.

Apple's iPod gets far more buzz, but it's "boring" wireless connectivity that many computer users find more indispensable.

At least that's one of the results of a survey conducted by Kelton Research and sponsored by the Wi-Fi Alliance (WFA) trade association. About eight of 10 surveyed (of the 551 total nationwide) said they would rather give up their iPod than their wireless network. The survey participants were 18 to 64 years old and all had experience with wireless computer technology in their home.

"The number's actually higher than we expected. We were a bit surprised," Karen Hanley, senior marketing director for the Wi-Fi Alliance, told internetnews.com.

Another question in the survey asked how long it took users to set up their wireless home network. The results weren't great; the average length of time was one hour and eight minutes. Still, the WFA framed the results in the best light under the heading: "One Hour for Freedom".

"It does still take too long," Hanley conceded. "I set mine up in twenty minutes, but I know what I'm doing. We're working to help knock the length of setup time down."

The survey also indicated that Wi-Fi is changing the nature of the home office. Rather than the traditional fixed office space in the den, respondents said mobile wireless computing lets them work in the kitchen, living room or their local coffee shop.

A slim majority (55 percent) in the survey said they work from home at least two to three times a week and of those, 38 percent indicated they either work outside the house or some other room that's not designed to be an office.

One area of concern is network security. Hanley said its research shows far too many Wi-Fi networks are setup and left unsecured. The organization has a task force working on a spec and certification to better automate the process of making sure home networks are secure.

Pre-installed in most PC notebooks, Wi-Fi capability is expanding rapidly to cell phones and other devices. The research firm In-Stat estimates over a 120 million Wi-Fi chip sets have been sold worldwide and it expects that number to quadruple by 2009.

And while the comparison to the iPod is a bit forced (one is a consumer product, the other an enabling technology) Apple's  popular handheld music player may soon help Wi-Fi become even more popular. There are a few music players with Wi-Fi connectivity already and Microsoft  is rumored to be planning a device with similar capability. Analysts say Apple will likely add Wi-Fi to iPod at some point as well.



Comment and Contribute
(Maximum characters: 1200). You have
characters left.