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The Death of the Set Top Box

Hosting and managing a huge number of video assets is a complex and highly-skilled business sector, but providing and managing the UI and search interface at the consumer end is a market where lots of people have been playing. There are hundreds of mobile content browsers, apps, embedded content gardens on new TVs, or a range of boxes and sticks to be plugged in. Lots of clients ask for the relative value and potential growth pattern for each of the markets, but we wonder if the devices are just an example of the tech required at this brief moment in time.

In the early 20th century you could buy a device for sharpening the bamboo needles for your gramophone player, I wonder if a streaming stick or little winking box from Now or Apple is going to become the same historic quirk rather faster than we think? If I am right then that Amazon or Google dongle could be very valuable, so wrap it up now so that you can take it to the Antiques Roadshow in 2075 in its original packaging. How long will it be before the panel of antique experts includes a digital guru like Nigel Walley prodding a Sky analogue set-top box and giving it an improbable valuation?

Remote control apps like Peel are already breaking down the traditional UI of screen and remote controls at a rate of knots. Before long the Virgin phone app will surely allow the STB functionality to be managed between the phone and the cloud. In that world there are no set top boxes, there are just data links and complex rights management infrastructure to be managed. That means even bigger back office companies managing and transcoding and controlling the video, but the bit we currently think of as the aggregator - the company that gives us the remote control... well that looks a little more shaky.


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