Intel has been widely rumoured as a prospective entry into the set-top TV box and content delivery business for quite some time now, and the company has remained mostly quiet on the issue – until today.
Speaking at the AllThingsD media conference, Intel Media’s Erik Huggers, the former BBC exec Intel poached for the project, said the chipmaker will be launching the WebTV service by the end of the year.
Mr. Huggers described the device as an Intel-powered box with “beautiful industrial design” that offers live television, “catch-up” television, on-demand, and a set of applications.
He did not name any confirmed content providers.
“We’re working with the entire industry to figure out how to get proper television,” Mr. Huggins said. “We’ll offer choice, control, and convenience.”
“If bundles are bundled right, there’s real value in that. I don’t believe the industry is ready for pure a la carte.”
Mr. Huggers said that Intel will be using the HEVC video codec for delivering content, instead of H.264. Intel believes that this can provide much better bang for the bandwidth buck when it comes to delivering video.
For its part, Intel is concerned about ISP data caps hampering its ability to deliver service to customers. Mr. Huggeres thinks that most consumers will stay under them, but in the long term ISPs will be forced to raise caps or do away with them altogether.
Intel says the device will offer a camera as a way to identify users and personalize service.
“My kids may watch programming geared toward them, and I’ll watch programming geared toward me,” Mr. Huggers said. “If there’s a way to distinguish who is watching what, advertisers can then target ads at the proper parties.”
In the end, Intel and Erik Huggers are trying to sell users a content delivery box with a sleek UI and personalized content streams. If the company can sell it at an aggressive price point, and offer cable-killing a la carte channel pickings, it should have no problem selling this to eager consumers.
Intel’s problem, however, is content providers. This cartel could delay the project, or the killer-app version of it at least, indefinitely.
On stage, Mr. Huggers didn’t seem to be too concerned.
“It’ll take time,” he said. “Rome wasn’t built in a day.”