The most interesting things at CES were the things that weren't at CES. While I'll discuss the others in due time, one notable absence from CES was the often rumored Intel set-top box. Erik Huggers, the head of Intel's new Media division, confirmed today that Intel was working on a complete IPTV solution: service, software and hardware, all to be sold direct to consumers.

Erik confirmed that Intel Media was an all new group within Intel, staffed with folks from Apple, Netflix and Google among other places. Erik himself came from the BBC's Future Media & Technology group. Intel seems to know that it can't pull something like this off using internal talent alone. Bring in smart outsiders then give them the support of Intel seems to be the approach here - and it makes sense.

Details are scarce, and I'd expect them to be for quite some time. Intel committed to launch the box and service this year and it'll support features like catch-up, video on demand as well as live TV - all delivered over the internet. A list of content providers as well as pricing are two notable bits of information that were missing from today's disclosure. Until we get closer to launch, I wouldn't expect to hear anything on either front. Intel did mention that this wasn't a value play, and there was a strong focus on content bundles, which means this is likely not a full á la carte solution that's going to drive cable TV providers out of business.

I'll refrain from speculating publicly here, but there's a lot that makes this interesting. Some questions to ask:

1) Why is Intel getting into the TV business? Why now?

2) If not competing aggressively on pricing, then how will Intel differentiate?

3) Intel's divisions traditionally require high operating margins to survive in the long run. 

Unlike Intel's smartphone aspirations, its work in the TV space won't have the time to eventually build up steam. Intel also won't have the burden of playing catch up in a quickly maturing industry. The established players in the cable TV space have done a great job of stifling innovation for quite a while. It's clear that a more revolutionary approach is necessary to liberate live TV content. The question is whether or not Intel can be the first company to succeed where others have failed.

Many expected Apple to be the first to tackle and succeed here. Perhaps Intel will beat them to the punch? (this helps answer question #1 above).

More thoughts on this later. 


Source: AllThingsD



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  • nicmonson - Tuesday, February 12, 2013 - link

    Maybe that Anand thinks this is something interesting and he wanted to post some of his own thoughts/questions on it. If you did not want to hear Anand's thought on the TV, you did not have to click on the article. It is not like is does this much anyhow. Reply
  • Lonyo - Tuesday, February 12, 2013 - link

    Did you post this on every pipeline article, or just this one about an Intel product? Reply
  • WhitneyLand - Tuesday, February 12, 2013 - link

    Are you crazy?

    The best part of this site is when Anand gives his analysis and thoughts on interesting developments and that's what this is.

    Anyone can do benchmarks, the value of this site is the writers putting things into context. Using their insights and experience to make sense of things.
  • saurabhr8here - Wednesday, February 13, 2013 - link

    I had anticipated some criticism for my comment. I did not want to sound rude, the only point was, Anandtech's strong point (my view and you might have a different opinion) is in-depth technical benchmarking. Not everyone can do benchmarks, at least not the way these guys do. Of course, I value how this site puts technology in perspective and that is the reason why I follow their articles.

    Everyone delves into 'rumors and speculations' these days before products are released, and yes, I do value Anand's comments/analysis but honestly, this article adds little value to what has been announced by Intel.

    And as someone responded to my comment saying I shouldn't have 'clicked' on the article, I read it because I follow Anandtech regularly and read at least the first two paragraphs of every article.

    Again, the purpose of my comment was not to incite a war of words, the article may have value to a lot of readers, I just wrote what I felt.
  • jjj - Tuesday, February 12, 2013 - link

    Intel is trying to create markets for it's chips,that's why they are doing it but if they get deals with the media owners other will too and they can undercut Intel in price for the hardware+service.
    Short term the big problem is that too many in the US don't have fast enough connections and/or have caps greatly limiting what is possible..Without a huge head start ,they won't make any money long term.
    There is one way to do this and only one way. Free media Advertising and product placement can be a lot smarter on the internet, and sooner or later someone will aim this high and hit the target.
  • Shadowmaster625 - Tuesday, February 12, 2013 - link

    Unless intel has a dsp or some other solution that allows them to take file compression to a whole new level, I dont see why they bother with this. If indeed they are making some sort of breakthrough (10x more than the best we have now) this is a great way to capitalize on it! Imagine if it were possible to stream a netflix quality movie (about 2mbps) at under 200 kbps. I firmly believe that this is completely possible, but its going to take a serious hardware. Not necessarily a lot of processing power, just something well integrated, like quicksync. If the compression were done the way I'm thinking, they would need a very large NAND device on board. Look for 16-64GB (!) which would be used to store a very large library file.

    But of course, who am I kidding, this is frickin intel I'm talking about. Like they would actually get this right. Nope they'll blow it just like they did with atom, and hand billions over to apple and netflix in the process.
  • R0H1T - Wednesday, February 13, 2013 - link

    WTH are you talking about ? 10x compression, realtime at that, not gonna happen anytime this decade or even the next one unless you want some horrible looking HD shows ! Reply
  • JKflipflop98 - Thursday, February 14, 2013 - link

    Dude. Video files are already compressed to the max. That's the whole point of encoding a video file. There's no magical algoritm that is going to compress an mp4 movie another 10x. Hell, there's nothing that will compress it another 10% Reply
  • GrizzledYoungMan - Tuesday, February 12, 2013 - link

    That's a very interesting question. My thoughts: they see embedded devices - especially those related to the sort of video decoding-heavy PC-lite applications exemplified by IPTV - as major computing need consumers have that is currently being serviced by Intel's competitors.

    By entering the IPTV STB market, they gain a few things right away: the potential to get people using embedded devices that aren't ARM-based; new customers for their own future low power SoCs; the potential to simultaneously activate and control a new market for devices that are going to be relatively compute intensive.

    In short, a major problem for Intel's current low power CPU/SoC strategy is that there is little interest in building devices around their future products. Entering this market creates opportunities for those devices.
  • twotwotwo - Tuesday, February 12, 2013 - link

    "Many expected Apple to be the first to tackle and succeed here. Perhaps Intel will beat them to the punch? (this helps answer question #1 above)."

    Yeah. What's remarkable to me is that they don't seem to trust a partner to do it -- maybe they're frustrated with what partners have been doing in the PC and tablet spaces.

    Content might be another reason Intel's involved. As a huge company with cash on hand, they may think they're in a good position to negotiate large, favorable content deals.

    As a user, I have trouble imagining it as a product I'd want to buy, but we'll see. Its competition all seems to be either useful for much more than TV (tablets, PCs, consoles) or very cheap (Apple TV, Roku, etc.).

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