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The global market for set-top boxes (STBs) will grow gradually over the next few years, then will peak at around 110 million shipments in 2012. Thereafter STB unit volumes for all platforms – DTT (Digital Terrestrial Television), IPTV (Internet Protocol Television), DBS (Direct Broadcast Satellite), and CATV (cable) – will begin a gradual decline, claims analyst firm ABI Research.

“STB revenues for all platforms have declined significantly between 2007 and 2009, but will recover by 2010 and remain relatively stable through at least 2013,” said ABI Research principal analyst Robert Clark.

Sales of basic STBs have already been falling for some time; now HD-only and PVR-only STBs are also showing the first signs of downturn. From 2009 on, Mr. Clark expects to see a greater share of combined HD/PVR sales, especially in the DBS segment.

The decline in shipments after 2012 is due in part to the expected completion, in most developed countries, of the transition to all-digital television broadcasting. Pay-TV platforms in particular are affected through 2012 by the threat of displacement by over-the-top video, and the substitution potential of residential gateways, media hubs and gaming boxes. STB components will increasingly be integrated into TVs themselves.

On the revenue side, IPTV has been the most affected of all the pay-TV platforms by the current dip. It was already forecast to slow down because network operators have been rethinking their future investments, especially from the standpoint of differentiation. The recent economic upheavals have exacerbated the decline.

“The STB won’t disappear as a result of threats from other set-top devices. But in the DTT sector where the needs are more basic, there is an opportunity for STB component integration into newer flat screens,” Mr. Clark added.

Tags: STB

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