Market research

Pace Snatches Moto's Set-Top Crown

Strong sales to cable operators in North and South America helped Pace plc unseat Motorola Mobility LLC as the world's top set-top box supplier in 2010, according to new data from IHS Screen Digest.

The U.K.-based company took the lead for the first time ever after shipping 20.7 million units in 2010, a 21.1 percent increase over its 17.1 million shipments in 2009. Motorola, meanwhile, saw shipments rise just 4.2 percent, to 19 million units.

IHS Screen Digest said Pace's solid 2010 was marked by its ability to grab market share from Motorola and Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) and snare high-volume deals at Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) and Net Servicios of Brazil.

At Comcast, Pace has been successful selling its digital-to-analog Digital Terminal Adapter (DTA) devices and more advanced, IP-capable "RNG"-class digital boxes. Comcast has also been using a Pace-made set-top for its Web-slinging "Xcalibur" technical trial, setting the stage for deeper involvement as the MSO looks to expand its pilot work and head toward commercial deployments. (See Comcast 'RNG' Set-Tops Have IPTV Potential , What's Inside Comcast's Parker Box? and Comcast Tests Broadband-Fed Xcalibur Service.)

Although Pace held the high ground on shipments, Motorola still led on 2010 set-top revenues -- $2.4 billion, down 9.5 percent from 2009's $2.7 billion. Pace STB revenues jumped 8.1 percent to $1.9 billion. The research firm noted that Moto and Cisco had average sales prices about 60 percent higher than their European rivals.

Here's how the 2010 numbers stacked up for the top four set-top makers:

Table 1: Top-4 TV Set-Top Box Brand Shipment Ranking (unit shipments in millions)
Company 2010 Rank 2009 2010 2010 Percentage Growth
Pace 1 17.1 20.7 21.1%
Motorola 2 18.2 19.0 4.2%
Technicolor 3 12.4 12.9 3.9%
Cisco 4 8.4 11.1 33.2%
Source: IHS Screen Digest May 2011

Table 2: Top-4 TV Set-Top Box Brand Revenue Ranking (rankings in millions of U.S. dollars)
Company Rank 2009 2010 2010 Percentage Growth
Motorola 1 $2,661 $2,409 -9.5%
Pace 2 $1.740 $1,881 +8.1%
Cisco 3 $1.424 $1.537 +8.0%
Technicolor 4 $1,203 $1,094 -9%
Source: IHS Screen Digest May 2011

Pace may struggle to repeat the feat in 2011. Earlier this week, the company warned that full-year profits would come up short due to global supply chain disruptions caused by the Japan earthquake and tsunami. (See Japan Quake Shakes Pace.)

Dancing with DTAs
All of the top four STB suppliers factored into the DTA mix at Comcast, which has been giving away millions of the simple, low-cost adapters to fuel its "Project Cavalry" analog-reclamation initiative. (See Comcast's $1B Bandwidth Plan .)

According to IHS Screen Digest, Moto shipped 5 million DTAs in 2010, followed by Pace (3.5 million) and Technicolor (Euronext Paris: TCH; NYSE: TCH) (2.5 million) and Cisco (1.5 million). Operators such as Suddenlink Communications , Mediacom Communications Corp. , Insight Communications Co. Inc. and Charter Communications Inc. have also begun to deploy or test DTAs, a device market that Nagravision SA , Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. and Evolution Digital LLC are also penetrating. (See Huawei DTAs Break In at Suddenlink .)

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) awarded a blanket waiver on a new breed of HD-DTAs last year, a move that should give that market more legs in 2011 and beyond. Comcast is already making plans to roll out new "universal" HD models that can run on Cisco- or Motorola-based cable systems, according to Multichannel News. (See FCC Opens the Way for More HD-DTAs and DTAs Getting Smaller, Cheaper & 'Universal'.)

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable

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