TV boxes disappear gradually as smart TVs, phones take over

By Hoai Anh   August 8, 2023 | 06:08 pm PT
TV boxes disappear gradually as smart TVs, phones take over
Chinese giant Xiaomi’s Mi Box S. Photo by Xiaomitoday
The popularity of smart TVs and smartphones have left TV boxes, or set-top boxes, high and dry.

This month a leading electronics retail chain stopped selling TV boxes. Others sell only two of them: Xiaomi Mi Box and Apple TV.

Even a few years ago there were no less than five TV box brands with dozens of models.

"The golden age of TV boxes in Vietnam was in 2017-18," Tien Vuong, manager of a electronics store on Hang Bai Street, Hanoi, says. "Now there are few buyers and sales are less than a 10th of the peak time. Those who want low prices choose Xiaomi devices, while those who love the Apple ecosystem will buy Apple TV."

The set-top boxes mostly used the Android operating system and were Chinese or Vietnamese brands made in China.

But since 2019 demand for them has steadily decreased.

The appearance of Mi Box from Xiaomi at reasonable prices and excellent configurations has caused other Chinese brands to almost disappear.

In China, the world’s largest TV box market, too sales have plummeted over the years, according to Chinese tech news site Gizchina.

The first half of this year saw a year-on-year fall of 30% to 929,000 units. In 2016, some 14 million TV boxes had been sold.

Soon after smart TVs appeared, set-top boxes were favored because they could make old TVs smarter and more convenient.

Smart TVs had their own operating systems, but only high-end models had hardware good enough to satisfy users.

So many people chose to spend VND1-2 million (US$42-84) to buy a set-top box instead of tens of millions on high-end smart TVs.

Now, all TVs on the market are smart, and even the cheapest models are good enough to run YouTube, and OTT media services and applications like Netflix.

All three popular TV operating systems, Google TV, webOS of LG and TizenOS of Samsung, have well-stocked software stores, enough for the entertainment needs of smart TV users.

According to technology expert Nguyen Minh Tien, another reason for the gradual disappearance of TV boxes is that people are spending less and less time watching TV, and more and more time on smartphones.

"People may still buy and use TV sets as a habit, but the demand for this product is not as high as before."

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