Will IP Set-top Boxes Outpace Cable Boxes?

While the CAGR of worldwide cable and satellite STB shipments is forecast at a modest 13-14% over the next five years, IP-STBs will see growth more on the order of 60% in the same period.

Everywhere in the world a telephone operator offers DSL services, opportunities exist for IP-STB vendors.

According to Vamsi Sistla, ABI Research’s director of residential entertainment technologies research, chipset and component vendors — both market leaders and new players — are looking at the IP-STB industry with renewed attention.

He observes that, while companies such as Thomson, Samsung and Pace Communications are heavily committed to this market, two of the largest cable STB makers have not produced any IP-STB products, despite the huge potential.

“The reasons for this are unclear,” he believes, “but may relate to the limited revenue opportunities this market represents, compared to other parts of their business. On the other hand, cable industry alliances may prevent them from moving in this direction.”

No matter how much innovation goes into TV, says Sistla, advanced STBs will play a role in the future of television viewing experience – whether it be for HD or time shifting, VOD or iTV. Chipset vendors such as ST Micro are pushing the envelope to empower STB vendors in building that coveted ‘residential gateway’ at a price point attractive for the MSOs to launch.

ABI Research’s report, “The Future of Cable, DBS, IP and Terrestrial Set Top Boxes”, examines the global trends in shipments, revenue, and penetration of advanced features for various distribution networks, including: digital cable, DBS, Fiber, terrestrial, and DSL & IP-based networks.