Apple rises to third in global STB rankings behind Arris and Technicolor

Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) moved into the third spot in global set-top revenue in 2015, up from ninth place the year prior, thanks to hot sales of the Apple TV OTT device and industry consolidation. 

In all, the tech giant sold around 10 million Apple TV boxes in 2015, IHS said, which put it third behind Arris and Technicolor in rankings of global STB revenue. 

The fact that Arris swallowed Pace, the No. 2 set-top maker in 2014, helped consolidate the rankings, as did the purchase by Technicolor of Cisco's CPE division, which combined the Nos. 3 and 4 companies. 

"The new positioning of Apple at the top of the set-top box market reflects several trends," said Daniel Simmons, director of connected home for IHS Technology, in a statement. "Pay-TV specific set-top boxes are becoming less important for consumers to access premium content, because Netflix, HBO Go and other OTT video platforms now offer top-tier content to retail OTT STBs. As retail STBs have grown in the market, traditional pay-TV set-top vendors have been forced to re-position themselves, with significant consolidation at the top of the market, diversification toward software and services in the middle, and low-end vendors moving toward broader volume."

IHS estimates that Arris took in around $3.5 billion from selling set-tops in 2015, with Pace's performance factored in. The combined Technicolor and Cisco generated around $2.5 billion in STB sales, the research company estimates, while Apple's set-top sales came in at around $1 billion. 

IHS said that global set-top shipments grew 4.8 percent in 2015, reaching 353 million units. Revenue increased by 3.4 percent to $5.7 billion in the fourth quarter, driven by sales of OTT devices like Apple TV and Roku. However, STB revenue fell 5.4 percent to $22.2 billion for the year, with IHS blaming poor performance by pay-TV operators in North America as the key driver.  

"The STB market has certainly grown since 2007, when Steve Jobs originally described the Apple TV business line as a 'hobby,'" Simmons added. "Now, we're seeing sales of Apple's consumer devices in the millions, which has catapulted the company ahead of leading STB manufacturers that ship to pay-TV providers. Apple TV's particular success is a result of translating consumption habits from across Apple's wider device ecosystem onto the TV screen."

For more:
- read this IHS press release

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