Technology | Media | Telecommunications

Monday, June 08, 2009

Will the Demand for PC-TV Tuners Recover?

Demand for PC-TV tuners has fallen off from the 2008 levels due to the worldwide economic recession, according to the latest study by In-Stat. Perhaps broadcast signal reception quality is also still an issue -- that was my prior personal experience with analog tuners.

The market also faces fundamental challenges, including slow consumer demand, increased competition from online television and other programming sources, and lower prices due to a shift from hybrid analog/digital tuners to digital-only tuners.

One hopeful development is that Microsoft's Windows 7 and the new version of Media Center will apparently include better connectivity solutions for PC-TV Tuners.

"Opportunities for growth will be for hybrid analog/digital tuner manufacturers to increase share by lowering prices, or for new entrants to leapfrog the analog and hybrid segments by aggressively targeting the emerging digital-only segments, albeit with lower margins," says Gerry Kaufhold, In-Stat analyst.

I'm actually wondering if there's such a thing as a USB Digital-Only TV tuner that delivers consistently good quality reception on a notebook computer screen -- I'll gladly write a review of a product. Contact me directly if you represent a vendor, and can provide a review sample.

Overall, selling PC-TV tuners is going to be a tougher business going forward. Will the market fully recover? We'll have to wait and see.

In-Stat's market study found the following:

- 2009 unit shipments will see a net decline of nearly 11 percent. Moderate unit growth will resume in subsequent years, driven nearly exclusively by digital-only tuner shipments.

- Worldwide PC-TV Tuner revenue likely peaked in value during 2008, at about $1.4 billion.

- The European region is by far the largest geographic market for PC TV Tuners, representing more than 50 percent of worldwide revenue.

- PC Tuner growth in Notebooks will significantly outpace other segments, which include desktops, retail sticks, and retail add-in cards.

- ATSC M&H mobile video in the U.S. may create significant upside for digital-only tuners.