NEW YORK--Intel Corp’s naked ambition to move into the American living room is hardly a surprise to anyone who’s been paying attention. But Intel’s new plan--sketched out this week by Erik Huggers, the head of Intel Media--apparently goes far beyond what was originally viewed as just another Google TV-like Internet television platform.
Intel's plan involves not just the end-user consumer box but the service business. The company's goal, according to Huggers, is to launch in 2013 a new Internet-based TV service and box, designed to offer both “live TV” and “catch-up TV” as one coherent and seamless experience.
While declining to reveal a name for the service, Huggers, speaking at a media conference this week, called it “a proper TV experience.” It will be a much easier, one-input device experience, compared to today’s Internet TV, which often involves a lot of “hard work” on the part of users, Huggers said, since “viewers need to cobble together” a cable set-top (for watching live TV), turning on a DVR (to search for recorded programs) and setting up Roku (to watch Internet TV).
“Not many… no, nobody … has cracked this yet,” Huggers said.
Just as broadcast TV has evolved from free-to-air to cable, satellite and telcos, Huggers hopes Intel’s new Internet TV service will be viewed as “a new distribution platform” that programmers will embrace.
By “catch-up TV,” Huggers means something similar to BBC’s iPlayer, an Internet TV and radio service. BBC, Huggers' previous employer, offers viewers an opportunity to catch up on the last seven days of BBC TV and radio programs without using a DVR. These programs are stored in the cloud and made available on demand.
With the whole TV viewing experience rapidly moving to a multi-platform world, “Intel has a narrowing time window” for this [Internet TV service and special box for it], explained Rick Doherty of director of Envisioneering Group. “The majority of the IT universe now watches video on pads, PCs and TVs.”
This doesn't seem like a big deal to me. There are a lot of online TV companies that don't require anything, not even registration. My boys and I have been sitting and watching all the football matches online. The only thing that was still tangible was the [url=http://www.russettsouthwest.com/heating-cooling-services/air-conditioning-tucson/]air conditioning Tucson[/url] remote.
For my part I like the idea of "catch-up" viewing. The rigid single-showing schedule of popular TV erks me to no end, especially with sports events. (Yeah, NFL channel I mean you. If any of your marketers are reading the answer is NO. As in 'NO I would rather NOT watch your gaggle of overpaid, over-ego'd ex-athletes and other know-nothings talk about the game.' JUST REPLAY THE FRIGGIN' GAMES - ALL OF THEM, NOT JUST TWO! ALL WEEK LONG!)
But Bert, after reading your many well-informed comments you've opened my mind to looking beyond merely working around the limitations of the set-top box. Now I'm thinking about how I can save $120 bucks a month alltogether.
Streaming is the answer, DrQuine. Why bother downloading first? All of the major, minor, and utterly obscure portals I've tried support streaming. And all have reasonably to very intuitive UIs.
All you need to do is set up a few bookmarks (favorites) on your browser. Each bookmark will typically open a portal for you, with all manner of well organized content. If you insist, you can label these favorites with a "channel number" instead of a name, although that would be counter-productive very quickly.
Every step increase in the volume of choice brings with it necessarily new navigation tools. A simple numbered knob was enough originally, when a TV market had maybe 3 to 12 channel choices. Cable systems augmented channel numbers with proprietary channel guides, as choice climbed to maybe 120-150 channels. Now we're way beyond any such walled-in net and its still limited choice.
So, you simply use the tools developed for Internet level of choice volumes. Browsers, search engines, bookmarks, streaming media.
How long does it take you to get to your favorite online newspaper? It should take no longer to get to your favorite online TV shows.
TV simplification is urgently needed. Navigating the menus, requesting downloads on your computer and then returning to the TV to view them (Netflix), and trying to remember the constantly changing channel numbers are not tasks we should be burdened with. If IP addresses can access every Internet device in the universe, why can't we have a simple means to access TV content instantly (a virtual channel number) and leave all the content mapping to a computer with nothing better to do? A simple content directory would also be an obvious development ... TV-pedia anyone?
For that matter, Apple is no Apple either, when it comes to TV.
It seems to me that all manner of people, from the production studios to CE vendors, to pundits and certainly also many consumers, are having a really difficult time thinking outside the stale old box, when it comes to topics of TV.
This doesn't apply all over the world, but in the US, ever since ~1980 or so, a whole lot of consumers became addicted to cable TV. Addicted to the point that they now assume TV content and the distribution of that TV content must forever be tied to dedicated and inseparable hardware. The assumption going in is that the box on your TV set is essential, is proprietary, and it is what allows you access to the content. Apple and Intel are both trying to keep that old model alive. Our box gives you content rights.
But the IETF developed this obsessively open medium called the Internet. The standards are available free of charge, even. Those old models of dedicated, proprietary hardware tied to your rights to the content are obsolete and are far better left that way. Its a travesty to force-fit those olds ideas to the Internet.
Consumers have proved to be quite adept at using the Internet for just about everything. The younger generation is having little trouble treating TV content like any other Internet content, viewing it on any manner of device. The Hollywood studios are not blind to this, are offering their content more and more on Internet sites, but are slow at opening the floodgates completely. What we don't need is for hardware companies, including CE companies, working in (apparent) collusion with the studios, to try to yank us back to 1980. Or similarly, Internet TV boxes so deliberately crippled that people can't do without their old cable hookup.
The Valley is littered with the wreckage of hardware companies thinking that they could make money utilizing Hollywood. Content companies will announce 'partnerships' and 'relationships' with Intel to be sure. In the end, all that will have happened is that Intel cash ends up on someone else's bank account.
Apple was successful with music, OK. But Intel is no Apple.
All this is very nice but it needs to be looked at in terms of price and family income.
It is not uncommon for a family to presently pay $150 for cable and internet connections. Then the cellular phone bill can be $150. The $3600 a year is a pretty bug chunk out of a family income.
We are in TOTAL agreement, Frank. As you said, the content rights issue is separate, and unlikely that a hardware companey can come to grips with it.
Since so much content IS already available online, for free or for pay, I will assume here that the main thing people are obsessing over is *live ESPN content*.
So here's the thing. If Disney is unwilling to make live ESPN content available at their very own abc.com site, e.g. with subscription, then what leads anyone to think that, oh, say Coca Cola, would fare any better at getting rights to that content?
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