Different or Similar? Technology Gap Between Small Offices and Home-based Businesses Is Decreasing, IDC Finds

FRAMINGHAM, MA – JANUARY 25, 2006 – Very small offices (SO) and home-based offices (HO) are often regarded as distinct markets for the purpose of IT marketing and sales: one is part of small business, the other part of consumer. In many respects however, they are very similar, and the technology gap between the two segments will decrease in the coming years, a new IDC study reveals.

"The SOHO market continues to bridge the consumer and commercial technology space, with significant opportunity for suppliers who can deliver affordable, easy to use solutions", said Merle Sandler, senior research analyst for SMB and Home Office Market at IDC. "Whether operating inside or outside the home, SOHO customers are interested in advanced technology that can help them grow their businesses."

Among key highlights of IDC's overview of SOHO firms are the following:

— SOHO firms will reach 23.1 million by the end of 2009.

— Penetration rates for cellular phones, PCs, and inkjet printers are similar and substantial for both SOHO segments.

— Monochrome laser printer ownership is higher in small offices than in home offices, but with declining prices, color laser printers will be increasingly attractive to both segments.

— LAN usage is higher among small offices than home offices, but networking use will grow significantly in both types of businesses in the coming years.

— Online small offices are more likely to have a home page than are online home offices, but home offices with a home page are more likely to be selling online.

IDC's new study, SOHO Market Overview 2006: How Similar Are Small Businesses with Fewer Than 10 Employees and Home-Based Businesses? (IDC #34776) examines the similarities and differences between SOHO firms – small offices with fewer than 10 employees (SO) and income-generating home offices (HO). The study forecasts the growth of both SOHO segments and compares their use of technologies including telecommunications, PCs, printers, LANs, Internet and ecommerce.

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