STB comeback: Pace claims No. 2, will buy Bewan

Update, 3/8/10: Screen Digest lead analyst Tom Morrod shed some light on how the firm compiled its set-top box market numbers. It's tally was based on data reported by the vendors themselves, along with further number crunching by Screen Digest. It encompasses STBs used on all types of networks--cable TV, IPTV, satellite. The rankings do not include gateways, only STBs. Some vendors, of course, ship more of one or two types of STBs than others. Cisco, for example, ships predominantly cable STBs and a smaller number of IPTV boxes, while Pace's majority of shipments tend toward satellite and DTT. Pace benefited in recent years, Morrod said, as STB demand broadened and grew rapidly worldwide, and Pace acquired Philips' STB group.

News that may come as a surprise to some, especially those who work for Cisco Systems: U.K.-based Pace (not the picante sauce maker) is now the No. 2 vendor by market share in the pay TV set-top box market, according to numbers from Screen Digest. I can't find those numbers at the SD site as of this writing, so consider this a developing story. But, SD said as recently as late last year that Pace, which a few years back suffered financially and fell far behind other STB makers, was now increasingly well-positioned to take advantage in a market of tighter spending. Other vendors, like Motorola and Technicolor (formerly Thomson) also have been consumed by their own private financial problems.

In any case, it appears that Pace led the way in announcing its triumph this week, and even told The Financial Times that it had considered buying market leader Motorola's STB unit recently until the U.S. vendor decided it would keep the operation. Pace reportedly passed Technicolor to earn the No. 2 market slot. Where Cisco figures in I'm not sure, but didn't Cisco claim the No. 2 slot in the worldwide STB market as recently as the middle of last year?

Further bolstering Pace's claim of a resurgence, the company today reported large profit and revenue jumps in its 2009 year-end results, and put a cherry atop its sundae by announcing that its is acquiring residential DSL/cable gateway company Bewan for about $17 million.

For more:
- The Financial Times has this report
- Light Reading Cable covers the Bewan buy

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