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Unconventional Digital Television Receivers

Of the more than 360 million digital terrestrial television (DTT) receivers expected to ship in 2013, about a quarter will be found in nontraditional consumer electronics devices. Examples are portable DVD and other media players, and in fixed consumer electronics equipment such as PC TV tuners -- rather than in standard TVs and pay-TV set-top boxes (STB).

"Nontraditional devices will form a fast-growing segment of the market for silicon receivers of digital terrestrial video," says principal analyst Steve Wilson of ABI Research. "The small footprint, low power, and low cost of silicon solutions will extend the opportunity for delivering digital broadcast television to consumers. The market will expand from traditional TV and STB applications to other fixed and portable consumer electronics devices."

The global DTT market's development patterns will be influenced by regional adoption of broadcast standards. Most developed countries have already settled on one of several available standards for fixed and mobile digital video broadcast, with variants on DVB leading the charge, and silicon vendors are starting to produce chipsets targeting specific markets and applications.

ABI says that the notable exception is North America, which has not yet adopted a mobile broadcast video standard, although the ATSC committee has announced plans to develop one. So, will the availability of broadcast digital reception drive sales of portable video receivers? Or vice-versa, is the presence of a large user-base of such devices a prerequisite to success of broadcast-to-portable?

The answer is both, says Wilson. "In the case of portable DVD player market, the inclusion of a tuner will significantly enhance the usefulness of the device and its appeal, without adding very much to its cost. Solid-state portable media players will quite likely see significant market share increase on their own, without the ability to receive broadcast video, but its inclusion will be an added feature allowing vendors to differentiate their devices from their competitors. The same applies to portable TVs: their improved performance with digital tuners may help increase the size of that market."

People that are not familiar with the workings of the U.S. public policy arena may be confused by reports of the nation's slow progress with mobile value-added services, particularly those associated with television, and other forms of video entertainment. However, while the American market was once at the forefront, today the environment is hindered by the increasing burden of vested-interest lobbying activity from various incumbent players who are attempting to essentially hold-back the future.

The lobbyist influence at the FCC is perhaps one of the most troubling threats to the U.S. economy, and specifically America's diminished role in the evolution of digital media-related innovation. Americans that visit the Asia-Pacific and European markets are most aware of the apparent communications and entertainment sector advances that have occurred in these regions. However, few really understand the reasons why the U.S. has fallen behind.

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