STB manufacturers look to advanced features

As revenue from standard STB (Set-top Box) sales declines along with demand in the period 2008 to 2012, STB vendors will initially rely on firmer markets for DBS (Digital Broadcast Satellite), IPTV, and DTT (Digital Terrestrial Television) STBs. However, according to a study from ABI Research, by the end of the decade even those sectors will be under pressure from alternative technologies being introduced to facilitate 'the connected home,' and vendors will have to add new features and functions in order to revive flagging shipment numbers.

“The development of two-way digital-cable ready TVs, residential gateways, media centres, and even video capabilities on gaming systems will put the STB‚s status at risk,” says research analyst Paulhwa Lee.

STB manufacturers are responding in several ways. First, they are adding new features more hard-disk space, DVD players, DVD burners, home-audio solutions, and others ˆ to make the traditional STB more relevant to consumer demands. They are also attempting to improve electronic program guides and to incorporate more Web-based services and video gaming. STB vendors are also moving more aggressively into the hybrid STB market. Hybrid STBs offer a single solution to a number of possible problems caused by the multiplicity of video sources and distribution platforms.

Lee concludes with a word of counsel for STB vendors: “No one video or television technology will be a killer‚ in the next few years. So as this market flattens towards the end of our forecast period in 2012, STB vendors would be well advised to incorporate as many of those technologies as possible into their products.”

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