An item on the FierceCable site this morning about a Financial Times analysis of the evolving set-top box market:Set-top box future remains present concern
FierceCable - March 26, 2012
"Following last week's IPTV World Forum in London, the Financial Times offered an analysis of the evolving (or is it still dying?) set-top box market, and discussed the growing threat presented by Internet-connected TVs.
The concern about the future of set-top boxes will sound like nothing new to the cable TV industry, where set-tops have been seen for years as having a limited future potential amid the rise of Internet TVs, residential gateways and other offerings. Yet, the set-top box, while far different from the set-top box that sat atop your 19-inch living room TV 20 years ago, often can still be found in its accustomed spot.
In part, the new talk about the death of the set-top box is being inspired by rumors that companies like Cisco Systems and Google (which acquired Motorola's set-top box business) want out of the market. The Financial Times also points out that some set-top box vendors may not be so lucky as the market gets squeezed, though it is clear that companies like Amino are embracing the hybrid TV trend, while traditional set-top box giants like Pace fortify themselves with acquisition of technologies that will be increasingly important to keeping set-tops viable. The last line of the Financial Times story, in any case, should read like an affirmation for anyone in this sector.
- here's the Financial Times report (reg. req.)" »www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/cb93af76···qBFWIM3S
EDIT: Some excerpts from the Financial Times report:
"The potential concern for the TV set-top box makers at the [IPTV] convention was all around them, albeit in a wireless form: the internet.
As the variety of TV content available over the internet expands, the future market for makers of TV set-top boxes - such as Virgin Media's TiVo and Sky's Plus - has been called into question.
Why would a consumer pay for a subscription to use a set-top box when smart TVs allow direct access to internet content, known as over the top (OTT), for free?
The market is being squeezed as consumers shift to downloading TV programmes and videos over the internet from companies such as LoveFilm, Google and Netflix, whilst free content is available from services including the BBCs iPlayer, Channel Fours OnDemand and the ITV Player.
Furthermore, BBCs iPlayer on-demand TV service recently became available on all the UKs major gaming platforms, including Microsofts Xbox360.
The internet TV trend has been touted as a potential killer of set-top box makers, which include Yorkshire[England]-based Pace, the worlds biggest maker of TV set-top boxes by shipments, and Aim-traded Amino Technologies."
Set-top boxes are still the best way to improve functionality and ensure security, says Donald McGarva, the new chief executive of Amino.
Its still quite a youthful environment for these boxes and OTT its not going to be a binary outcome where one wins and the other loses.
Such confidence is echoed by Mike Pulli, chief executive of Pace: OTT is just another mechanism to deliver content. We see [internet TV] as a complementary service rather than a replacement service.
The other challenge facing set-top box manufacturers is the use of the cloud where content is accessed over the internet.
The OTT services might lack content but they have shown up pay-TV in terms of the user interface and experience, says Giles Cottle, principal analyst at Informa.
Moving to the cloud can enable operators to compete more effectively in these areas.
Consumers are demanding higher-quality content in various formats (TV, mobile, PC and tablet), and the latest set-top boxes such as those from Amino combine broadcast, on-demand and open internet services.
I dont have a crystal ball, I dont know what will happen in 20 years time, says Aminos Mr McGarva. But set-top boxes have been predicted to die many times now. So far, theyre still going strong.