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Access to content may decide fate of media center PCs

Market watcher IDC indicates demand for systems increasing at a phenomenal rate

Access to content may decide fate of media center PCs

The success of media center PCs will be closely linked to the wider availability of digital content, an industry tracker said in its latest report.
This was evident in the last two months with the inking of movie download deals involving AOL with Intel, Amazon with six major movie studios, and others, IDC said.
Those agreements have brought the personal computer closer than ever to a more defined media-centric role, giving consumers another compelling reason to own media-capable PCs, it added.
"Today's shipment levels of PCs that serve as digital hubs in living room entertainment systems remain too low to be a factor in the overall consumer PC market. However, shipments of media center-equipped PCs are increasing at a phenomenal rate," said David Daoud, a research manager at IDC's Personal Computing and PC Tracker Programs.
"The proliferation of broadband in households worldwide is driving increased use of the Internet for media applications, including audio and video playback and downloading in a multitude of formats and quality levels. As a result, IDC finds that PCs are increasingly used as entertainment devices that complement the traditional living room entertainment system, not replace it."
Taiwan well positioned
This is good news to Taiwanese vendors such as Acer and other OEMs and ODMs that have been rolling out products targeting the digital home entertainment market.
"Our slogan is to 'enjoy any media at any home.' The digital home (era) is here, and we at Acer can provide consumers with a one-stop-(digital home) shop," Jackson Lin, vice president of Acer's Digital Display and Peripheral Products Business Unit, told a recent Taipei forum.
Dennis Chen, general manager of the Personal Systems Group of HP Taiwan, said the digital home entertainment concept has yet to take off in Taiwan "but the opportunities are certainly there."
HP recently unveiled media center PCs based on the M7575 AMD Live! and the M7595 Intel Viiv platforms.
"Today, customers are looking for PCs that will allow them to view, interact and play new content from broadcast television to music to games," Tom Anderson, vice president of marketing for global consumer PCs at HP's Personal Systems Group, said.
Media center capabilities are seen as value-added features that enable PCs to function as mini entertainment systems in addition to their role as Web surfing, e-mail, productivity tools, and increasingly as Voice-over-IP solutions, IDC said.
"IDC believes that the success of media center PCs will be closely linked to the wider availability of content that is now being pushed to consumers. The potential for that success is evidenced by iTunes' sale of 125,000 Disney movies in the first six days of its service offering," the industry tracker said.
In the short term, PC makers, operating environment and software publishers, and component suppliers will make concerted efforts to raise consumer awareness of media center PCs, results of IDC's latest research on media center PCs revealed.
A large share of the desktops currently sold to the consumer market, and to a certain level notebooks, are shipped with Microsoft's Windows XP Media Center Edition as the de facto operating environment, it added.
"This push is expected to help smooth the transition to Microsoft's Vista Home Premium when it is released early next year. Additionally, Intel and AMD, and other players in the industry, have embarked on similar initiatives to boost consumers' entertainment experience in the home," IDC said.
In 2006, 5.85 million media center PCs will be shipped worldwide. Those systems will have the software and hardware necessary to qualify as media center units, with both the media center operating environment and combined TV tuner and remote control, according to IDC. The value of this market is estimated at nearly US$6 billion, with the U.S. accounting for 46.3 percent of the total.
In the longer term, worldwide shipments of media center PCs will likely expand at a compound annual growth rate of 41.3 percent from 2005 to 2010, with the U.S. market increasing at a compound annual growth rate of 34 percent during the same period.
In 2010, IDC said it expects worldwide shipments to reach 27.5 million units, with 9.5 million units absorbed in the U.S., generating a worldwide revenue opportunity of US$29.4 billion.
The U.S. revenue opportunity in 2010 will be US$12.6 billion, IDC said.


Updated : 2021-04-13 14:54 GMT+08:00