NEW YORK – So, who are the unsuspecting victims of Intel Corp.'s plans, publicly disclosed this week, to “wind down” its digital TV SoC business?
Rick Doherty, co-founder and director of Envisioneering Group, identifies the real victims as “more than 20 Chinese ODMs, all hoping to ride Google TV’s coat tails.” These companies were developing add-ons to LCD display units for Google TV. “They were getting lots of help from Intel to prototype [them], and approach U.S. and global retailers,” said Doherty. “They were all headed for a CES 2012 launch.”
Meanwhile, when asked which part of the CE business Intel is getting out of, an Intel spokesperson said: “the retail [digital TV] business.” While adding that Intel will continue to work with a few partners “on a case-by-case basis,” she declined to name names of such “partners.”
For Intel, ditching the digital TV SoC business was “a tough decision,” but it creates a clear path to align its consumer business with “Ultrabook devices, smartphones and tablets,” which the Intel spokesperson now describes as “top corporate imperatives.”
With this decision, Intel no longer needs to get caught up with, or getting distracted by, what might turn out to be fierce price competition on the digital TV SoC market. Intel is now wisely shifting its CE silicon strategy to “the gateway and IP set-top-box media processor businesses.” Meanwhile, the company “will wind down its operations in the Digital TV business,” the spokesperson added.
So, what’s left of Intel’s CE business?
“The IP set-top media processor business” and “the gateway business,” says Intel. These remaining CE businesses will be folded into Intel’s tablet organization headed up by Doug Davis.
By “IP set-top media processor business,” Intel means “SoC silicon and hardware designed for high-quality digital set-top boxes where content delivery is via IP networks. Clearly, Intel’s primary focus is on IP networks. Forget about traditional terrestrial, satellite or cable broadcast technologies.
In the “gateway (also known as cable) business,” Intel will continue to build SoC silicon and software for cable modems, cable gateways, Fiber-to-the-home gateways, retail IP gateways, and multimedia terminal adapters. The cable modem technology Intel acquired from TI, for example, belongs to this gateway business category, and “will be part of the expanded charter of the Netbook and Tablet Group under Doug Davis,” explained the Intel spokesperson.
Doherty suspects that almost every major TV maker, Sony, Samsung, LG and Vizio included, who started with Intel SoC chips for their Google TVs, are now likely to pursue ARM-based solutions for TV screens. Intel’s 4200 series SoCs, which were on display as recently as the Intel Developers Forum last month, according to Doherty, are the ones most likely to be “wound down.”
What about so-called synergies between tablets and Intel’s remaining CE business? Doherty said, “Intel could discount these CE 4200 SoCs for tablets…but they are still power- hungry.”
How Intel might succeed in the tablet and IP TV delivery segments is far from clear. Intel is starting “years after NVidia, Qualcomm, Apple A5, even Marvell (they are in $299 Vizio tablet) and other ARM core solutions,” Doherty observed.
This GoogleTV/AppleTv will not do anything better than a PC+TV combination but seriously untill the whole/most of broadcasting content is also available through internet this is a non starter. The TV business is saddled with fierce competition and is very cost sensitive and add to that the broadband costs which are not still dirt cheap to make this a real competition to satellite TV. So I think intel may have done the right thing in keep off form this for a while.
Agree completely. Plus most of these ODM's also make other consumer products. I am willing to bet many will never touch Intel again, for tablet,set top box, phone, etc. They did way more damage than just a few google TV boxes. They said very clearly do not design with us for anything outside of PC's.
Agreed! That's what the CE industry should have been doing all along, when they started to introduce Internet connected BluRay players and TVs.
Whether built into TVs, or provided via a STB like a BluRay player, for some reason, the CE types preferred to give users a very limited experience. For instance, only a handful of web sites are accessible. But it's too late for that. Consumers have become too Internet savvy to be blown away by such limited options, is my contention.
Good point. Intel seems not to think long term. There seems to be no internal innovation process. They are buying all the world and they are also want to sell. If they do not have a coherent plan, they will miss opportunities. They need to have a real plan, not buy and sale hack strategy, hoping one will work.
Better luck next time on consumer electronics.
.. Look at the IDF presentation, all about laptop, transistor, security, and power. Consumer electronics is not even in the radar....Wait till TVs start browsing web pages. ARM will expand all its dominace
All these days i heard news of Intel buying and expanding. It is hard to see that they are closing a division.But sooner or later when the DTV market picks up due to some new king of invention with a great deamnd which will be more than the demand for CPU's what Intel will do? I feel that they could have kept this division and fine tune it with minimum expenditure.
Nice post! I just wonder what will happen to the Libit engineers who were bought by TI and then by Intel. Once upon a time, they had some cable modem business, before Broadcom cornered the market on that piece of silicon. more info at: http://news.top-shoppingmall.com/
Good point. Actually that was exactly the reason why I asked Intel what happens to the cable modem technology Intel acquired from TI. Intel says that it belongs to this gateway business category, and “will be part of the expanded charter of the Netbook and Tablet Group under Doug Davis."
Join our online Radio Show on Friday 11th July starting at 2:00pm Eastern, when EETimes editor of all things fun and interesting, Max Maxfield, and embedded systems expert, Jack Ganssle, will debate as to just what is, and is not, and embedded system.