iSuppli: STB market to grow, to evolve

Wed, 10/15/2008 - 8:10am
Traci Patterson

Set-top boxes are expected to remain one of the most dynamic areas of the electronics industry for at least the next decade, according to iSuppli Corp, but the next decade’s version will look and function very differently than current STBs.

In the next few years, the set-top market will be driven by expanding capabilities, iSuppli predicts, including capabilities for high-definition (HD) and digital video recording. By 2012, more than 70 percent of digital STBs shipped are expected to integrate support for one or both of these technologies, up from 35 percent in 2007, iSuppli said.

“DVRs are cheap to integrate into STBs because Hard Disk Drive (HDD) costs have plummeted so much,” said Jordan Selburn, principal analyst for set-top boxes at iSuppli, during a presentation last week. “With the street price of storage just pennies per gigabyte and falling daily, the time is not far off when video storage hardware, whether at home or remote, will be both essentially limitless and virtually free. With cable or satellite companies only charging $5 or so a month for DVR support, who wouldn’t want the ability to record their shows and movies?

“HD falls into a similar category as DVRs,” Selburn continued. “HD video processing chips are migrating to 65-nanometer semiconductor manufacturing technologies, causing their incremental costs to drop compared to standard-definition devices. HD display prices are falling rapidly, as well. iSuppli forecasts that more than 125 million of these displays will ship in 2008, and customers will demand HD content to watch on their new televisions.”

But beyond HD and DVRs, media hubs and home gateways are set to supplant today’s one-box-per-set approach. Not only will this lower costs, it will enhance the user experience, as well, by serving video to all displays in a home from a centralized location, according to iSuppli.

“We aren’t there yet, but it is possible in the long term,” Selburn said. “Recording a show in one room and watching it on a device anywhere – that’s the ultimate media-center scenario. And with unlimited storage capacity and wireless connectivity inroads, we’ll get there.”

The digital STB market consists of satellite, cable, terrestrial and IPTV boxes.

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