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IMS Research: there’s a deep irony at the heart of the market for STB chips

US firm IMS Research has discovered what it believes to be a deep irony in the global market for set-top box core semiconductors: namely, that because they are cheap enough for operators to continue adding features to their TV services, sector revenues will remain stable through 2016 despite a trend towards commoditisation.

A 3% increase in shipment volumes, along with moves to more advanced architectures (including both MPEG-4 AVC, and TV Gateway + thin client architectures) are predicted to conspire to keep overall revenues in the segment essentially flat at approximately US$ 2.7bn annually over the next four years.

The segments that are expected to have the largest upside over 2011 revenues of core semiconductors are HD MPEG-4 AVC STBs, TV gateways, and thin clients, all of which are beginning to displace traditional SD MPEG-2 core chips.

The supplier-side data in the report also indicates a trend towards commoditisation, with all of the Western chipmakers except Broadcom experiencing a drop in revenues compared to 2010 while the major Taiwanese entrants generally grew revenues.

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