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.”
I continue to be baffled by the difficulty companies have in offering unfettered access to Internet TV on their large screen TV sets. It seems such a simple problem to solve, and we keep being told that "it hasn't been cracked yet." (Thank goodness I didn't know it hadn't been cracked. Allowed me to solve the problem without the anxiety that it couldn't be done!)
Not sure why Intel thinks it needs to become a copycat cable system, content tiers and all, instead of focusing its efforts on making a good Internet TV STB. Or for that matter, marketing their solution to the CE vendors, to embed in TV sets.
It seems to me that banking on the blessing of the TV content owners, to allow Intel to become another cable-like service, is just asking for problems. And they lose me as a customer right away.
The tough nut to crack is the unbundling of Content contracts which are held by Comcast (NBC), Time Warner, Disney (ESPN) and the like.
To unbunde ESPN HD from the rest of Disney is costly. If you wanted just ESPN and nothing else, would you as a consumer be willing to pay $45 just for ESPN?
Bert, I don't know why you're such a skeptic about the likelihood of Intel taking over the field of content distribution, I mean look how devastatingly successful they were piling billions into developing XScale technology then using it to take over the consumer side of the telecom industry! (Oops, they sold that disaster to Marvell and left with their tail between their legs in utter defeat didn't they? Pride going before the fall part two? Hmm...)
Burt, BTW, if you would like to have a good STB made with Intel silicon inside, I would suggest you take a look at Xfinity X1 service: http://xfinity.comcast.net/x1/
Or if in Europe, check out Liberty Global offerings: http://www.lgi.com/horizon.html
The delivery of the content is simple. The problem is the various licensing and proprietary locks every link in the delivery chain. The interest in this is based upon the changing dynamics of what a PC will be used for in a house. The TV will remain a center point for a family, even those that use multiple screens to watch content. Intel is not the only company working on this type of hardware. We will have in production in April a very small PC that sits on top of the TV, with a camera built-in.
I learned earlier this week (from Google's presentation in the Silicon Valley Comsoc, Rick Merritt will be soon writing about this) that one needs 1Gb connection to the home in order to see 4K video and the compression offered by variant of H.264 has already been solved, reinforcing what @Bert22306 is saying -he is spot on, Intel should rather focus its attention on a good set top box for the next generation video. Incidentally, at the event cited above, Google's product manager for its Kansas city project passed around a content delivery box that has 1000BaseT as well as CoAx interfaces so some one has already SOLVED the 4K video delivery probem!
Divakar, Intel already has Puma6 silicon that can deliver 1Gbps Downstream (and 320Mbps upstream) cable modem speeds to the home... Plenty of performance for multiple channels of 4K video.
David Patterson, known for his pioneering research that led to RAID, clusters and more, is part of a team at UC Berkeley that recently made its RISC-V processor architecture an open source hardware offering. We talk with Patterson and one of his colleagues behind the effort about the opportunities they see, what new kinds of designs they hope to enable and what it means for today’s commercial processor giants such as Intel, ARM and Imagination Technologies.