The worldwide market for digital set-top boxes (STBs) experienced continued strong growth in 2006, with smaller Asian manufacturers advancing up the market share ladder. Traditional STB stalwarts still remain the worldwide leaders, but are facing increased competition from lower tier manufacturers. The digital STB market reached an estimated 122 million units shipped in 2006.
The French STB maker Thomson held on to its leader position in 2006 with double-digit share, due primarily to its dominant position in the US pay-DTH market and the company’s strong entry into the European IP-STB market. Motorola nearly doubled its digital cable STB output compared to 2005, and has further extended its share lead over US-based competitor Scientific Atlanta. Chinese-based Tongda has gained ground on the top tier players by tripling their satellite STB output in 2006, with volume shipments primarily to Asian markets. No longer trailing the STB heavyweights, Philips Consumer Electronics has ascended into the top five worldwide share leaders by supplying the continued growth of pay-DTH markets in Europe and Asia.
Lower tier Asian manufacturers such as DVN, Changhong, Huawei, Skyworth, Jiuzhou, and Gospell have moved into the top 20 worldwide share leaders by capitalizing on the tremendous growth of the digital cable TV markets in China, India and other parts of Asia. These manufacturers are poised to challenge the top 10 STB makers in the coming years as the need for conditional access, security, and demand for increased functionality drive these growing local markets.
Connected Home Research Group analyst Mark Meza says: “As was expected, we are seeing top tier manufacturers focusing more on the advanced STB market due to their long-standing market presence and expertise in delivering STBs with advanced functionality, such as MPEG-4 AVC HD and HD DVRs.”
As digitization in China and India is progressing at an unprecedented pace, growth opportunities are being created for basic and mid-range STBs. Meza adds: “Some of the lower tier manufacturers that barely registered on the radar a few years ago, are now moving into position to capture the low-end STB market in the quickly developing digital markets in Asia.”