Google tried to extend its influence to televisions, an effort that largely crashed and burned. Apple executives call Apple TV a “hobby,” although it’s been long-rumored that their company has a television set in the works. And Microsoft’s made a muscular attempt to conquer the living room with the Xbox, which now does a lot more than just video games.
If current rumors prove correct, you can soon add Intel to that list of IT giants with an eye on televisions. According to TechCrunch and SlashGear, the chip manufacturer is prepping to unveil a first-generation television system of some sort at next month’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.
TechCrunch suggests that Intel will debut the system on a city-by-city basis, similar to what Google’s doing with Google Fiber, in order to maintain “more flexibility in negotiating licensing with reluctant content providers.” (The publication’s information comes from the ever-popular unnamed sources.) In essence, Intel is proposing a set-top box paired with a subscription service, which would provide a mixture of traditional programming alongside streaming content.
Intel is also reportedly working on a digital video recorder (DVR) as part of the package, which would allow watchers to instantly bring up any sort of programming from any subscription channel.
Why would Intel want to expand to the living room? If the initiative succeeds, it would create a whole new market for Intel chips. While Intel’s managed to dominate the PC space, it’s had considerably more trouble making inroads into mobile devices such as tablets and smartphones, which largely depend on ARM-based processor architecture.
It remains to be seen, however, whether Intel would use a living-room platform to create new lines of business in advertising and data mining. Millions of customers inputting information into set-top boxes would result in lots and lots of individual and demographic data, which Intel could then package and sell to advertisers and marketers. Google, which lives and dies on advertising revenue, presumably had a similar strategy in mind when it launched Google TV; despite high expectations, however, Google TV hardware was greeted mediocre reviews and anemic sales.
Can Intel do better? That remains to be seen. But the company’s interest in televisions suggests that the living room continues to be an intensifying battleground for hardware and software makers.