Average consumers may be unaware of it, but media server technology is beginning to infiltrate their homes as TiVO and satellite/cable television providers put set-top boxes into their very own hands.
In fact, In-Stat/MDR predicts worldwide unit shipments of media server products will almost double in 2004 to more than 6 million units. In 2005, total product shipments will reach 10.3 million units, with PCs accounting for 1.8 million units and standalone products capturing 8.5 million units. By 2008, the market will triple again to 31 million units overall (split between 10.9 million PCs and 20.1 million consumer devices). And the vast majority of these products will continue to be standalone consumer electronic devices or set-top boxes.
"The biggest portion of growth is coming from satellite providers who are starting to deploy devices into the household at low cost or no cost," said Michael Paxton, senior analyst at In-Stat, the Scottsdale, Ariz.-based market research firm. "That's what will spark the growth over the next 24 to 36 months. This is still not an inexpensive object that can be bought for $200 or less."
Today, less than 25 percent of media server products shipped are PC-based devices based on an operating system such as Microsoft's Media Center Edition OS, said Paxton. Unit shipments of PC-based media server products are projected to rise rapidly from 2006 to 2008 as consumers begin to demand a richer and more full-featured media experience from their PCs, he added.
"We will see more PC products incorporating consumer electronics' abilities and becoming multimedia focused devices, rather than productivity devices," he added. "By 2008, the split will probably be 35 percent PC and 65 percent consumer electronics."