A recent spate of movie download deals will spur the adoption of media centre PCs as home entertainment systems, industry experts predicted today.
IDC believes that the growing number of such deals gives consumers a compelling reason to own media-capable PCs.
The analyst firm noted that the success of media centre PCs will be linked closely to the wider availability of content that is now being pushed to consumers.
"Today's shipment levels of PCs that serve as digital hubs in the living room remain too low to be a factor in the overall consumer PC market. But shipments of media centre-equipped PCs are increasing at a phenomenal rate," said David Daoud, research manager for IDC's Personal Computing and PC Tracker programmes.
"The proliferation of broadband in households worldwide is driving an increased use of the internet for media applications, including audio and video playback and downloading in a multitude of formats and quality levels.
"As a result, IDC finds that PCs are increasingly used as entertainment devices that complement, not replace, the traditional living room entertainment system."
The IDC study predicts that 5.85 million media centre PCs will ship worldwide in 2006.
These systems will have the software and hardware necessary to qualify as media centre units, with a media centre operating environment and combined TV tuner and remote control.
The value of this market is estimated at nearly $6bn, with North America accounting for 46.3 per cent of the total.
In the longer term, based on the most likely scenario, worldwide shipments of media centre PCs will expand at a compound annual growth rate of 41.3 per cent from 2005 to 2010.
In 2010, IDC expects worldwide shipments to reach 27.5 million units, with 9.5 million units absorbed in the US, generating a worldwide revenue opportunity of $29.4bn.
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