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Almost 200 million digital media adapters in homes in 2012, ABI Research says

The installed base of digital media adapters (DMAs) — freestanding or embedded devices that allow users to route audiovisual content to their televisions and stereo systems — is expected to number about 184 million in 2012. But according to a new study from ABI Research, only a little more than 11 percent of those will be dedicated standalone devices, and fully 85 percent will be embedded in game consoles.

According to principal analyst Steve Wilson, "The manufacturers are aiming to make their consoles more like 'media center' devices, rather than being just for gaming. The advantage they have is market share: their products ship in large volumes. The big question is whether gamers will actually make use of this added functionality built into their consoles."

DMAs are being embedded in other kinds of devices too, but in much lower numbers. Televisions, set-top boxes and DVD players are all logical candidates for the technology. Sony recently introduced its Bravia Internet Video Link, for example, which will connect its Bravia line of televisions to specific Internet sites offering online entertainment. A few other TV makers are following suit.

Companies now coming to market are aiming to offer a complete solution rather than a simple box that can connect to a PC. Microsoft and Sony both have online content sites, and ABI Research expects that trend to continue with other vendors. DMAs are increasingly providing connectivity directly to the Internet as well as the home PC.

ABI Research expects that when the Microsoft Media Center Extender (MCX) 2.0 technology comes to market in the autumn, there will be another surge in interest in products of this type.

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