Thursday, April 25, 2013

Set-Top Boxes Not Going Away

As much as TV sets come with a remote control, most of us rely on the remote from our set-top box to turn the channel and adjust the channel, even turn on and off the TV set.  Cable operators rely on their set-top boxes to unscramble signals, record programming for later viewing, and access video on demand.  We only tend to use the remote from our TV to switch inputs to our other devices. And it is those other "set-tops" that want a piece of our TV screen. 

Apple has its box, Apple TV, to access programming from our iTunes library and other streaming accounts.  And Rovi offers its own video streaming box. X-Box, Playstation, and Wii have their set-top box for gaming while also enabling streaming content to play.  And TiVo has built a solid DVR set-top box  while Boxee has a set-top box to record programming in the cloud; both with features that enable video streaming as well.  So, many of us most likely have more than one set-top box lurking around our TV set.  And more devices are arriving. 

Although it offers its video streaming Prime services to some of the above set-top boxes, Amazon is preparing to release its own Kindle TV set top-box.  "By building its own system, Amazon can put its content more directly in front of consumers while expanding its lineup of devices and giving developers another reason to create apps for Amazon’s digital ecosystem."  While set-top boxes have been around a long time, their functionality and ergonomics have improved greatly.  Which boxes the consumer prefers and how they wish to access their streaming content, whether through the TV set or other mobile devices, remains to be seen.  And most importantly, the exclusivity, variety, and amount of content accessible to consume will be where the consumer is most likely to dine and view.