Digital Set-Top Box Market Ready to Roll

According to a report issued last week by Allied Business Intelligence, a worldwide conversion from traditional analog broadcasts to digital images is creating a windfall for those producing consumer set-top boxes. Findings in the report, "Digital Set-Top Boxes: World Markets, Architectures, and Vendors," also indicate that the global installed base of digital set-top boxes will reach 252 million units by the end of 2004. The report states that two key factors driving the demand will be the use of digital set-top boxes by both DBS and cable subscribers. Growth in terrestrial digital TV decoder boxes is likely to be significantly slower, according to the research.

The author of the report, ABI analyst Navin Sabharwal, says that "the digital set-top box is not just at the convergence point between consumer electronics and computing, but also communications. Given the media-centric role that the device will play in the home, ABI believes that it will become a significant enabler to the 'networked home.' " ABI says it examines the worldwide market for digital set-top boxes and describes how the digital set-top box will fit into the emerging "networked home" from the perspectives of data, audio/video, and control applications.

The report goes on to conclude that in North America, the number of DBS subscribers is growing robustly and is projected to hit 28 million by 2004. "New DBS subscribers will make for healthy sales, while many existing DBS customers will also upgrade to second-generation digital boxes, taking advantage of new interactive offerings. European DBS operators are aggressively seeking to migrate their current analog subscribers to digital services. Digital DBS will also do well in other parts of the world that have little or no cable alternative."