iPad Helps Spark a Cable Set-Top Revolution

Tuesday, October 19th, 2010

Devices such as Apple’s iPad have led to demand for more sophisticated set-top boxes from cable network operators, says Heavy Reading Cable Industry Insider

NEW YORK — The arrival of high-powered end-user devices such as the Apple iPad is driving cable network operators to demand more sophisticated set-top boxes (STBs) from equipment suppliers, a trend that will have a significant impact on the STB sector over the next several years, according to the latest report from Heavy Reading Cable Industry Insider, a subscription research service from Heavy Reading.

Set-Tops Gone Wild: iPads & IP Revolutionize Cable Devices takes a high-level view of cable’s strategic options with STBs and related video devices. The report identifies and analyzes the key market drivers that are affecting cable MSO purchasing decisions regarding STBs and other end-user devices, and it pinpoints current STB strategies among Tier 1 US cable operators. The report details STB options now available to cable MSOs and profiles 12 leading suppliers in the STB market.

“The STB, the primary cable component inside millions of US homes, is morphing, expanding, and extending itself with new features and functionality,” notes Craig Leddy, research analyst with Heavy Reading Cable Industry Insider and author of the report. “By utilizing the best capabilities of each device platform, a cable MSO can tailor its services to meet individual customer interests.”

The new range of options is stretching and redefining the traditional meaning of STBs, Leddy says. “Emerging devices are helping cable to serve multiple screen and add more interactive and on-demand features to video content,” he explains. “The result could be a treasure trove of new cable capabilities that will retain customers in the face of satellite and telco competition and produce new revenue opportunities.”

Key findings of Set-Tops Gone Wild: iPads & IP Revolutionize Cable Devices include the following:

  • Cable is redefining the STB by embracing new devices to meet its in-home video needs.
  • Never before have MSOs had so many options for devices and capabilities, including next-generation STBs, DTAs, and broadband-connected devices.
  • Comcast’s demo of an iPad app that extends the functionality of conventional STBs is likely to spark more efforts to meld STBs with other end-user devices.
  • MSOs are curtailing spending on leased STBs and seeking next-gen architectures to handle multiple video formats.
  • The STB market is likely to become fragmented as MSOs use different devices for unique customer need.

Set-Tops Gone Wild: iPads & IP Revolutionize Cable Devices is available as part of an annual subscription (six issues) to Heavy Reading Cable Industry Insider, priced at $1,595. Individual reports are available for $900.

Companies profiled in the report include: Advanced Digital Broadcast [ADB](SIX: ADBN); Arris Group Inc. (Nasdaq: ARRS); Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO); R.L. Drake LLC; EchoStar Technologies LLC (Nasdaq: SATS); Evolution Digital LLC; Motorola Inc. (NYSE: MOT); Pace plc (LSE: PIC); Panasonic (NYSE: PC; Tokyo: 6752); Samsung Corp. (KRX: 005930, 005935; LSE: SMSN, SMSD); TiVo Inc. (Nasdaq: TIVO).