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While media server PCs form the majority of the devices used to store and distribute multimedia content around the home, set-top boxes (STBs) and consumer electronics (CE) devices, such as video game consoles, will capture increasing shares of the home media server market over the next five years, claims new brief research from ABI.

“STBs and CE devices are the fastest-growing types of home media serving equipment partly because of the tremendous popularity of video game consoles. The growth in the STB segment is largely due to broadband operators’ effort to push deeper into the ‘digital home network’ by providing additional services and connectivity,” said senior analyst Jason Blackwell from ABI Research.

ABI Research forecasts that in 2010, STBs and CE devices will together account for a little more than 51 million shipments – roughly a third of the total world market. These categories will continue to grow aggressively over the study’s forecast period to 2014. Much of the new growth in media networking will take place in Europe and the Asia-Pacific region.

Entertainment spending tends to remain strong even (or especially) in recessionary times. While overall home media server market growth remains quite linear through the likely period of economic recovery, STB and CE segments will outpace the market as a whole.

Operators are adding features to their STBs. One of those that tie into the media server concept is multi-room PVR: the ability to record a TV show on a PVR in one room and view it via other STBs in other rooms.

“Traditionally, most media network products have been classified by retailers along with core computer networking devices such as routers and hubs. Now vendors are pushing retailers to market them instead as entertainment devices alongside TVs and DVD players. That requires an effort to educate both retailers and consumers. There’s also a need to make these systems simpler and more user-friendly,” explained Mr. Blackwell.

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