It’s no secret consumers have an increasingly complex digital lifestyle with the average household now using six connected devices, according to Affinegy, a provider of home-networking solutions whose clients include Time Warner Cable, Cox and Charter. Last week, Affinegy said its Digido Home Portal software is being used by 7.6 million subscribers to manage their wireless home networks – an increase of 56 percent year over year.

Affinegy’s portal acts as a central hub to discover, connect and manage wireless devices, including smartphones, computers, game consoles, printers and tablets.

Although engineers and IT professionals speak about such standards as Digital Living Network Alliance (DLNA), "the ordinary user doesn’t know what DLNA is," said Affinegy CEO Melissa Simpler. "People can’t make DLNA do anything without somebody wrapping their software around it. Affinegy can leverage DLNA to find all my personal content – music, photos, documents – and seamlessly incorporate the use of content for all devices."

Getting Organized

In addition to managing all their wireless devices, consumers are leveraging the cloud to organize, protect and manage their content.

While the words "syncing" and "backing up" might sound like referrals to the latest dance craze, they’re terms consumers are using more frequently when talking about managing digital content. With photos, music, videos, documents, calendars and games on myriad devices, it’s getting hard to keep track of it all.

In a Webinar last week hosted by Parks Associates, Kurt Scherf, VP/principal analyst with that firm, noted a growing awareness of the risk associated with data loss from hard-drive failures or computer crashes, and that this has spawned many new services aimed at protecting consumers’ content. He mentioned ZumoDrive, SugarSync, Carbonite, Memeo, NewBay, MobileMe, LiveMesh, Didiom, mSpot, SeaGate and UltraViolet as members of this new breed. These companies offer such services as data syncing, backup, remote access and digital lockers.

Backup Top Of Mind

"We’re seeing 9 percent of U.S. broadband households – 7 million households – already subscribing to an online file backup service," said Scherf. "Consumers have a growing awareness of the fragility of their content storage."

Especially concerned are those people who already have experienced a loss of content. Parks Associates research found that 21 percent of consumers are interested in cloud-based backup services, and that number grows to more than 30 percent if they’ve actually experienced a failure.

"The bottom line is that fear is going to sell these services in the short term," Scherf added. "You’ve got a base of consumers feeling their data is at risk, and they’re looking for ways to back it up."

He also noted a growing interest from service providers in offering these solutions as branded from third-party providers, and that 12 percent of consumers have expressed a strong interest in online data or file backup as a value-added service from their broadband providers.

-Linda Hardesty

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