PC/TV integration progressing slowly

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PC/TV integration progressing slowly

PC-based TV tuner card shipments to exceed 40 million in 2011.

The convergence of PCs and televisions is continuing, but more slowly than many market watchers predicted, according to new research.

A study from ABI Research predicts that the total worldwide PC TV tuner market will grow from about 15 million units in 2006 to 41 million units in 2011.

While this is described as "a solid growth curve", the analyst firm noted that it falls far short of some estimates.

"The TV tuner card market has not taken off quite as quickly as some industry commentators expected," said Steve Wilson, principal consumer electronics analyst at ABI Research.

"That has less to do with technology than with consumer awareness of the possibilities, and broader market support from studios, operators and the Federal Communications Commission."

The technology is pretty much in place, according to Wilson, but questions remain about the user experience and the integration via digital media adaptors with the rest of the consumer electronics that people have in the home.

"Vendors need to have strategies that provide complete solutions for customers," he said.

"They should not position the TV tuner as a standalone device, but should aim towards bundling it with another device such as a media adaptor that allows playback via the television as well."

A few segments of the population, typically students and young people, are already comfortable watching and recording TV on the computer.

But these products will be only ready for mass adoption when service operators, broadcasters, studios, and technologists "define a cohesive home media architecture that facilitates, instead of hampers, interoperability and integration".

ABI Research predicted that the popular acceptance of TV-via-computer will come sooner and in higher volume in Europe than in North America.

This is due to the generally greater awareness of digital television in Europe, and the rollout of DVB-T and (in Italy) DVB-H mobile broadcast services.
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