When will the set-top box be replaced by an app?

Total Telecom published an article recently that featured several commentators arguing that the set-top box (STB) is here to stay. It is argued that the operators can create much stickier customers if the customer is forced to use a piece of hardware, rather than just selecting the operator as an app on their smart TV.

The numbers do support this theory. 270 million STBs were sold worldwide in 2013, up 8% on the year before and this is predicted to increase further to 286 million units this year. The market for STBs is expected to be worth over $2bn by 2017.

But doesn’t all this excitement about the sale of STBs rather miss the point?

Do the operators really believe that their customers are staying loyal to them just because they cannot find the time or energy to replace their STB with that used by a rival operator?

If my own provider suggested that they could eliminate my STB and replace all that functionality with a cloud-based app on the TV then I would feel more inclined to remain with them.

There is a strange contradiction in the growth of the STB market because pressure on margins means that they are almost certainly going to be discarded at some point in the future. Once one major operator ditches the STBs and goes for the cloud, surely all of them will need to follow?

What do you think? Is the set-top box really here for the long term? Leave a comment on the blog here or tweet me on @simondillsworth.

Something satisfying about hacking hardware


Photo by Joe Pemberton licensed under Creative Commons

This entry was posted in Current Affairs, Customer Service, Innovation, Technology, Telecoms and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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