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Will Television be Driven by HDTV or OTT?

With the global switch over from analog to digital TV broadcasts, hybrid set-top boxes potentially have a more significant role in the access to entertainment and information services.

This is especially apparent in mature high-speed Internet economies where broadband service providers strive towards providing interactive bi-directional television, thereby leading to the growth of IP set-top boxes.

According to the latest set-top box (STB) market study by ABI Research, IP STBs will generate a market value above $3 billion by 2014. This analog-digital switchover has also brought about a progressive momentum towards sophisticated box types as well as advanced compression technologies.

As ABI Research industry analyst Serene Fong notes, "Shipments of basic boxes across all television platforms have declined and will continue to fall throughout the six-year forecast period. In contrast, shipments of boxes with HD capabilities and MPEG-4 compression technologies -- including HD hybrids -- will head north."

Growth is associated with consumer thirst for higher quality content, which is often satisfied through HD quality videos. The increased ownership of HDTVs is considered a good indicator of where the market is heading. The increased adoption of direct-to-consumer Over the Top (OTT) Internet video delivery is yet another.

Motorola and Cisco Systems continue to sit at the top of the cable STB vendor list with a combined market share close to 50 percent in 2008. Thomson and Panasonic ranked highest in the DBS and DTT STB segments, respectively, in the same period.

Vendor strategies for retaining their market shares are targeted towards emerging technologies such as HDTV, IPTV, and digital TV, as these are expected to be the main driving forces for STB sales in the coming years.

ABI's new study, which is updated quarterly, addresses STB shipments information and examines the growth potential across four digital video platforms: CATV, DBS, IPTV, and DTT.

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