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All Eyes are Focused on the Digital Ecosystem Conflict

Incumbent broadband service providers everywhere don't fear each other as competitors -- but there's two industry outsiders that they observe very closely. Google and Apple have a significant competitive advantage in the battle to engage the connected consumer.

Why? They've already attracted an army of independent collaborators.

Having moved beyond a single product category focus, these new media app competitors operate digital ecosystems where devices, software, services, and creative content -- from hundreds of third-party companies -- combine to create consumer value far greater than is possible from any single product, or company.

Currently, over 40 million U.S. broadband households own and operate an Apple device. Google's fast growing ecosystem, based on the Android OS, is expected to double in size over the next five years.

"Not long ago devices were independent of services and video content; however, those days are long gone," says Keith Nissen, Research Director at In-Stat.

Today, nearly all consumer electronics (CE) devices are becoming web-enabled, linking them to online applications, services, and vast libraries of digital content.

The success of Apple has highlighted the inherent advantages of a comprehensive digital ecosystem. Today, the largest digital media giants such as Microsoft, Disney, and Sony, have to craft their own digital ecosystem strategy to selectively compete and sometimes complement those of competitors.

At the same time, more narrowly focused device manufacturers, service operators, and online portals need to navigate and position their products in the competitive landscape among the dominant digital ecosystems.

In-Stat's latest market study findings include:

- The Apple ecosystem in the U.S. totaled 137 million installed devices in 2010.

- The Netflix online video service is currently supported on over 250 CE devices.

- In 2010, Facebook had nearly 69 million frequent (at least once/week) users in the U.S. market.

- Amazon controls approximately 60 percent of the U.S. e-reader market.

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