I came across this interesting new statistic from Chris Lanier's blog:
"Sales of Media Center PCs have skyrocketed since July 9, according to a recent study by Current Analysis. For the week ending August 20, 2005, Media Center PCs accounted for 43% of all desktop personal computers sold in the U.S. retail market, based on data from a sampling of U.S. retailers."
The Red Herring discusses the research report from Current Analysis. What I find odd is that for the month of June Media Center sales were barely 15% of the total PC volume sold. That's a huge jump in a short period of time!
With the recent price cuts (Media Center PCs can be purchased for less than $900), PC manufacturers are really starting to push Media Center. Perhaps this spike is associated with college students buying "Entertainment PCs" for their dorm?
In any event with Intel's new VIIV platform we firmly expect continuted mainstream growth of Media Center. Of course, as gamers pick up their new XBox 360s, which includes native Media Center Extender support, this may form the foundation for the largest growth in Media Center PC adoption.
Also noted in the research is that the majority of Media Center PCs sold did not have a tuner card, and hence are not used as a DVR. As more consumers bring DVRs into their home from TiVo or directly from Cable/Satellite MSOs, I think it would make sense for the Media Center platform to form a cooperative relationship with these external DVR devices. We can start to see this open platform forming with TiVo's Tivo2Go service, but I would be surprised to see Comcast or DirectTV open their boxes in the short-term. Perhaps this sort of home integration could be leveraged by the Telco's when they role out their IPTV networks over the coming years. For example, a Microsoft IPTV-powered TelcoTV box could automatically integrate through a home network and allow secure portability to Media Center PCs.
2006 could be a big year for Media Center.