If 2011 was the year of streamed media, 2012 will be the year of the Cloud, and one staple of digital home entertainment hardware might get lost in the shuffle. The home media server, one of the Consumer Electronics Association’s five “Technologies to Watch” in 2005, will get a lot of competition from cloud-based storage this year.

Manufacturers are watching the trend, but aren’t too concerned yet. “The cloud may remove the need for local storage as it replaces that with music and movies delivered through the Internet,” concedes Joe Lautner, director of product planning at ELAN Home Systems, but adds, “The market will always need amplification, speakers, and an interface to hear and to control the content.”

CEDIA senior director of technology Dave Pedigo believes hardware servers will remain the choice for high-end home theaters because 1080p and higher resolution demands so much bandwidth. But, he expects cloud media storage, which lets homeowners access their content from anywhere, will “grow like wildfire.”

Builders should look into new media-server technology, such as the Streaming Blu Media 9800 series, which combines cloud access with the ability to rip and locally store from BluRay and other disc media. Company president Jeff Asherbranner says, “Data is going to the cloud, but homeowners will still want a familiar interface.”