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Media Center Sales Skyrocket

Media Center PCs experienced a massive uptick in sales in August, accounting for 43 percent of all desktop computer sales, according to a report from Current Analysis.

The research firm, based here, said the jump can be attributed to the average selling price for computers running Microsoft Windows Media Center Edition finally reaching $900. Other points in the study were that 71 percent of the Media Center PCs sold during the past month did not have a TV tuner; 53 percent were powered by an AMD Athlon 64 processor; and 67 percent were equipped with a 250GB hard drive.

Matt Sargent, Current Analysis’ research senior director, said this swing away from Windows XP could be a boon for the desktop business, which has seen notebook computers steal a huge chunk of the category’s share during the past two years. However, the fact that the majority of PCs are shipping without TV tuners is a major blow to the industry’s drive to create the digital living room.

“The lack of TV tuners is definitely significant. What it says is that users were not seeing value of a TV tuner or were not ready to make the shift to converge their TV and their PC,” Sargent said, adding that by making the TV tuners an option, vendors were able to reduce the price of the PC to the point where consumers were willing to give Media Center PCs a chance.

Consumer interest is Media Center is exactly what the moribund desktop category needs, Sargent said.

“The desktop market is in dire need of anything that will differentiate it from laptops. Media Center, with its focus on performance centric tasks, such as manipulating pictures, video and audio content, is one key differentiator,” he said, adding that Media Center will be the key to the desktop sector’s future.

Current Analysis expects computers running Media Center to climb to 60 percent by the end of 2005. This will be due, in part, to consumer interest in the multimedia-centric operating system and the fact that vendors are placing the OS on a higher percentage of units than it had in the past.