How's this to set off your 2013 tech news? According to multiple reports and this rather lengthy one from GigaOm, Intel has a new division called Intel Media that is planning on launching a TV service this year. While it apparently will not be ready to show off at CES next week, "knowledgeable sources" make the GigaOm author quite confident that it will happen in the March time frame.
Running much like a stealth startup rather than the multi-billion dollar corporate entity that it is, a new division called Intel Media has been working on an Intel TV service that aims to beat Google and Apple to the goal of an on-demand, a-la-carte video. Running under a separate board of directors headed by Intel CEO Paul Otellini and content lead Eric Free among others, Intel Media has lofty goals.
Intel CEO Paul Otellini is pushing services on his way out
The base for this service will be an Intel produced and branded set top box that will be sold online and through retailers like Best Buy. Maybe something like the Intel Next Unit of Computing we tested in December? But Intel also plans to have access to the service on any screen including PCs, laptops, tablets and mobile devices. The GigaOm story didn't mention if this would run on iOS and Android devices but if the service is to stand a chance, it had better.
Building hardware is easy; the real challenge is in convincing content creators and owners to license the video for an "access anywhere" mindset. Even Apple hasn't been able to accomplish that and I would dare say they have more industry clout with media companies than Intel.
That will likely include an ambitious licensing play to secure content across all of these devices. Intel’s set-top box will offer access to third-party apps, but also TV content licensed by Intel — something that has been one of the key challenges of the project. Reuters and the Wall Street Journal detailed earlier this year how the company wanted to secure the right to stream individual TV channels over the internet, and Forbes reported this weekend that it will offer consumers the ability to subscribe to individual channels, as opposed to a big and expensive cable bundle.
Intel's desire to develop this service area isn't unexpected as the company has been wanting to get away from being known only as a "chip manufacturer" and move to a "platform provider." It's just hard to see what Intel will be able to do so much better than what Apple has done with the Apple TV or what Google did with the Google TV platforms. Intel has no successful operating system and would either have to go with a Windows platform (expensive), Android (what would stop other people for duplicating it) or something custom (not a good track record).
There are a lot more questions about what Intel Media is or could become than we have information to address. But Intel is hoping that the executive team they have assembled will have those answers. Personnel includes Erik Huggers who led the BBC iPlayer, Sean Ludick from Jawbone, Courtnee Westendorf who handled global marketing for Apple and several more. Intel wants to be prepared for a world that cares less about the silicon that powers devices and more about the software and services on those devices.
The goal of getting individual channels of live television and on-demand content without the need for huge cable and satellite bills is the goal of a modern media consumption society but there are very large organizations that would like to prevent it from happening. If Intel does in fact have the answer then I will be among the first to stand up and applaud (and pre-order). If we are merely getting an Android powered version of the AppleTV with Netflix and Amazon Prime streaming video, I'll pass.
Google TV had a lot of lofty goals and promise as well…
There is a lot more information and speculation on this Intel Media directive on the source GigaOm article, and I encourage you all to check it out. Personally I don't see how this could be successful without a dramatic shift from the other software moves that Intel has made in recent years. Remember AppUp? How about MeeGo? Exactly my point. It is understandable for a company as large as Intel to want to branch out and look for new growth opportunities but they have yet to prove they are capable of doing so successfully. And many would implore Intel to stay focused on the technology…
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