ABI says that the digital media server market is made up of four main categories: PCs, set-top boxes, consumer electronics devices such as gaming consoles or PVRs, and Network Attached Storage (NAS) hardware. “Linux as embedded OS should take up a substantial part of the set-top box and CE market, but not the PC,” says Michael Wolf, principal analyst with ABI and author of the study. Who wants their PC to be their media center? Okay, at least not us. The logic is simple – the other two players – Apple and Microsoft will have their own proprietary systems. Apple will not share them with anyone else, of course! Microsoft would as long as you play ball with their DRM system or some other lock-in. (And they are not to be taken lightly.)
Huh? I’m confused. Anyways, I ran the statement by David Walker, a staff writer here at eHomeUpgrade, to see what his thoughts were. David responded with:
I think he may be right. Linux – as it stands now – is the dominant OS in set-top boxes and CE boxes (like TiVo). I’m not sure it will ever dominate in the PC market, no matter how good the distros get. Part of the problem – to me anyhow – is that Linux has so many distros to sort through. Mac has one OS. Microsoft, essentially, has one desktop OS (although Vista with it’s 50 versions may complicate matters).
However, David was also perplexed over Om’s statement: “Who wants their PC to be their media center? Okay, at least not us.” So, was Om knocking the Media Center PC concept in general? Neither of us could tell.
Anyways, I had a surprising revelation when responding to David’s comment that there are too many Linux distros to dominate. Here’s what I came back with:
It doesn’t matter how many there are… all that matters is that they have the ability to run popular Media Center apps like MythTV, Freevo, or SageTV for example. The real issue in my opinion is lack of support for HD discs, DRM playback [which isn't entirely a bad thing], and CableCARD. Other than that, Linux is golden. Wouldn’t it be a cool if a real winner in the Media Center app space came out on the Linux platform that was just as good or better than MCE that could easily be installed on *any* Linux distro? I think that’s more powerful than being stuck to one vendor’s OS.
What are your thoughts? Is the Media Center PC concept a dead fish being eaten away by “smart” networked devices, or will one vendor (i.e. Apple or Microsoft) come out on top and eventually rule the Digital Home space?
Filed in: Industry Buzz