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Samsung Reportedly Acquires Set-Top Box Maker Boxee

Samsung Reportedly Acquires Set-Top Box Maker Boxee
By Jennifer LeClaire

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The set-top box market is ready for take-off. Although Infonetics Research reports fewer than 3 million video gateways were sold in 2012, that number is expected to climb to about 33 million units by 2017. The firm predicts the market will see strong double- and triple-digit annual growth in media player shipments every year at least through then.
 



Samsung has purchased set-top box maker Boxee for about $30 million. Samsung has not issued a formal announcement about the reported acquisition.

Boxee lets you stream broadcast TV channels to any device and offers unlimited recording space in the cloud. That means you can record as many TV shows as you want and watch it wherever and whenever you want. All you need is an HD antenna and a broadband Internet connection.

"Samsung has acquired key talent and assets from Boxee," a Samsung spokeswoman said in a published statement. "This will help us continue to improve the overall user experience across our connected devices."

Why Boxee?

For analysis on the buy, we turned to Rob Enderle, principal analyst at the Enderle Group. He told us the acquisition makes sense considering Samsung's strong focus on competing with Apple. Of course, by entering the streaming-media market, Samsung also throws its hat into a ring already containing Intel, Google and Microsoft.

"This is going to be a hard-fought area," Enderle said. For its part, Boxee is competing against the likes of Roku. Boxee offers two main products: Boxee DVR (a cloud DVR product) and Boxee Live TV. Boxee works with Netflix, YouTube, Pandora, Vimeo, Spotify, MLB.TV and other apps, translating content to the television.

But why did Samsung choose Boxee? And was it the right choice?

"Samsung needs core to build from. You could argue that Boxee needs some extra funding to grow," Enderle said. "The smaller and simpler the company, the easier it is to purchase and keep together. The larger and more complex the company, the harder it is to pull off. We are talking about a Korean company to begin with, so it's not going to be an easy path. But this product is a portable. They can build on it and they are less likely to break it."

Set for Takeoff

The set-top box (STB) market is ready for take-off. Although Infonetics Research reports fewer than 3 million video gateways were sold in 2012, that number is expected to climb to about 33 million units by 2017. The firm predicts the market will see strong double- and triple-digit annual growth in media player shipments every year at least through then.

"Contrary to popular opinion, the set-top box market is alive and well," says Julien Blin, directing analyst for consumer electronics and mobile broadband at Infonetics. "STB revenue grew almost 10 percent in 2012, a considerable rebound from a year ago, and will remain healthy in the near term as operators in China, India and Latin America add digital services."

What's holding back the market? Enderle pointed to content licensing and rights as a major culprit. But he believes the industry is about to see a breakthrough in that area.

"Intel has an antitrust suit against the big cable companies and it's very likely since they are expert at this that they will break that open, and if they do everybody benefits," he said.
 

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