London, UK: Imagination Technologies a leader in system-on-chip intellectual property (SoC IP) predicts another big Christmas for DAB (Digital Audio Broadcasting) in 2003, following a year in which sales of digital radios have exceeded all expectations. The vast majority of the DAB digital radios available today are powered by technology from Imagination.
"This year has seen an explosion in demand for DAB, following the introduction of lower cost DAB products based on our META processor and Ensigma broadcast technologies," said Hossein Yassaie, CEO, Imagination Technologies. "We expect the UK DAB market to exceed half a million units this year."
Chips and modules from the fabless semiconductor company Frontier Silicon, which are based on licensed technology from Imagination Technologies, has enabled the growth in the DAB digital radio market. This technology made possible the launch of the first sub-£100 radio in July 2002, the start of a wave of affordable DAB products to hit the UK.
Imagination's DAB technology is used in over 80% of DAB sales worldwide by leading brands such as Bush, Goodmans, Grundig, Ministry of Sound, PURE Digital, Roberts Radio, Cambridge Audio and TEAC.
DAB has been a significant success for UK retailers all through the year and most are stocking against expectations of digital radios being high on many people's Christmas shopping lists. PURE Digital alone now has over 3,500 retailers in the UK, including: Argos, Allders, Boots, Comet, Currys, Dixons, House of Fraser, John Lewis, Littlewoods, Maplin, WH Smith and selected ASDA, Tesco and Sainsburys stores as well as many independent hi-fi and electrical retailers. PURE Digital's EVOKE-1 is also featured in Argos' pre-Christmas TV advertising campaign. John Kempner, Central Buyer, Audio and Television, John Lewis said: ";As one of the leading UK retailers of radios, our sales of DAB digital radios have been extremely strong all this year. We are expecting a huge demand in the build up to Christmas."
According to leading market research company GfK, from June-September 2003 PURE's EVOKE-1 has been the UK's No.1 transistor radio (analogue or digital; October figures still pending). In July it took 15.4% share by volume (43% by value) and sold over 3 times the number of units of the next rival. "As can easily be seen from the market data, DAB has finally arrived. We expect DAB radios to be one of this Christmas' must have presents," said Kevin Dale, President, PURE Digital.
Commented Yassaie: "PURE Digital's pioneering products have proven that the IP developed by Imagination Technologies is the natural choice for DAB digital radios. This has encouraged other leading consumer product manufacturers to enter the market and we expect them to realise significant value from products based on our IP in the coming year."
Digital radio has allowed the BBC and commercial broadcasters to introduce more stations, including digital exclusive stations like 1Xtra, Radio Five Live Sports Extra, BBC 7, Planet Rock and Oneword. Stations like Virgin and XFM are available in stereo across the country on DAB. It provides crystal-clear audio, easier tuning, and simpler, hassle-free reception.
DAB has potential for many further innovations, including EPGs (Electronic Programme Guides) and data broadcasts of content including web-pages and video. Frontier Silicon demonstrated MPEG-4 video playback running on its Chorus multimedia processor at Mediacast 2003. The advanced capabilities of the Chorus DAB processor also include playback of MP3 and other digital audio formats. Imagination Technologies has announced that it is supporting Microsoft Corp's trial broadcast of 5.1 surround sound audio signals over DAB in the central London area.
Imagination expects that DAB, which is already being broadcast or trialed in much of Europe and other territories including Singapore, China, Korea, Australia and Canada, will establish a stronger presence outside the UK in 2004. "The UK has lead the way in DAB," concluded Yassaie, "but we expect it to become a worldwide success from here."