Figures in a report published by market research firm Understanding and Solutions, show global shipments of cable, satellite and IPTV digital boxes reached 65 million units last year. Demand for set-top boxes is being fuelled by growing competition in the pay TV market which is dependent on set-top box technology to break into the market, the company says.
With the ongoing global of digital television, these boxes provide a secure platform from which to flog 'added-value' services such as high definition, personal video recorders, or video on demand.
Growth in the pay TV set top box market is seen continuing as a result of the expansion of digital cable, upgrades in the maturing satellite market and the growth of IPTV, where television is delivered to a normal TV set by Internet protocol through a set-top box.
But the growth of online TV and video is a double-edged sword, warns Understanding & Solutions consultant Andrew Carrol, who says it presents both a threat and an opportunity to the set-top box industry.
"Broadband may possibly impact the need for dedicated digital TV infrastructure long term, but for the next two to three years at least, subscription service providers actually see the set top box as a way to network and integrate broadcast and IP services into one seamless 'any content, any screen' proposition for customers," he said.
The set-top box industry is also threatened by the move towards open systems, which allow consumer electronics products like televisions to receive encrypted stations through the addition of a simple a PC card, known as a conditional access module.
However, the impact of the move towards open systems is likely to be limited for the next two or three years, the company said.
In March, the company released a report saying almost a quarter of European and American households were still reliant on analogue television.
That means some 70 million consumers will have to decide whether to switch to digital terrestrial (DTT), satellite, cable or IPTV technology before the switch-off in 2011.
IPTV to grow from an estimated 2.8 million users in 2006 to around 30 million by 2011, the company said. µ
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