Is PC/TV the next killer app?

Once thought a novelty, then considered something for specialized applications such as distance learning, PCTV is becoming a must have capability as users and OEMs take advantage of the PC’s ability as an entertainment center device.

Fueled by higher performance, bigger disk drives, faster

processors and memory, today’s PCs can do it all: capture TV, record it for later viewing, capture home videos, store and index photos and music, and distribute it over the air or the Web.

PCTV is a major catalyst for the age of convergence, and all it takes a simple addition of a TV tuner card or device for a PC to become a PCTV.

PCTV is moving from an early adopter and hobbyist product to a mainstream product. PC suppliers are building it into their systems (Apple has for years.)

The PCTV receiver market has been steadily growing and attracting new viewers/users every year. The adoption of PCTV was slowed in its early years by limited OS, CPU, memory, and graphics controller support, and costs were likewise a challenge. Those problems have been overcome and it’s now possible to watch TV on a PC. There are (at least) three ways to get TV reception capability:

  • Stand-alone TV tuner add-in board;
  • Integrated TV tuner and graphics controller add-in board; and
  • External TV tuner linked via USB or IEEE1394, or a special connector on a graphics AIB.

An add-in board (AIB) basically means it is not a discrete set of chips on the motherboard. An AIB can be added at time of manufacture by the OEM, or at time of distribution by the reseller (for SKU management), or by the user/consumer (after market or retrofit). Also, with today’s advanced bus and OS structures in PCs and Apple computers, it is possible to have more than one TV tuner in a system, allowing the user to look at multiple channels at once (PIP: picture-in-picture) or have cable and over the air TV.

In our recent market study, “”PC TV Market Today and Future,”” we also found that:

  • The overall market size of the PC TV AIB category is small in comparison to some other PC accessory categories because it is not an essential component in the same way that a graphics AIB, mouse, display, or CD is. However, it has a higher Compound Average Growth Rate than any of those categories;
  • 32 companies are supplying one form or another of PCTV, with three companies capturing 65 per cent o the market;
  • Total annual sales are $220 million per year and growing at a CAGR of 32.2 per cent;
  • ASPs (Average Selling Price) have bottomed out and are climbing; and
  • Home entertainment system will expand the market.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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