BW: Plug and Play TV

This will be interesting to watch… I’d say the average TV lasts for about 10 years, but in the last 5 years we’ve had 2 types of regular cable boxes and then the addition of an integrated DVR box… soon another will come when HDTV PVR is ready. I don’t know whether consumers will be happy with a TV less capable just because it can do some tricks without a box. Kinda like it is now… actually. In some cable systems you don’t need a box to decode, but you don’t have a DVR or MOD. The box adds value – not just premium channel decoding.

Over the next six months, Sharp, Pioneer (PIO ), and Motorola (MOT ) will introduce cable-ready TVs. And such sets will account for 500,000 of the 7 million or so flat-panel TVs that will be sold in the U.S. this year, up from nearly zero in 2003, estimates Michelle Abraham, an analyst with tech consultancy Cahners In-Stat in Scottsdale, Ariz.

TIME TO ADJUST.  Cable companies like this just fine. They can imagine sending new subscribers an activation card in the mail, which of course is preferable to buying millions of set-top boxes and hiring people to install them. Plus, they won’t have to deal with the 30% of customers who never return their boxes after dropping cable service, says Vamsi Sistla, an analyst with ABI Research in Oyster Bay, N.Y.

For makers of set-top boxes, however, the story is different. Motorola Broadband, Scientific-Atlanta (SFA ), Pioneer, and Pace Micro Technology will have to adjust their strategies or wither. [BW Online]

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