Erik Huggers, vice president and general manager of Intel Media, confirmed at the AllThingsD media conference that the chip giant plans to introduce a new Internet-based TV service and set-top box in 2013. He said the box itself, powered by an Intel chip, will sport a camera that can detect who is in front of the TV, seemingly backing up previous rumors that the company may limit content viewing to the number of customers present in front of the screen.
"For the first time, we will deliver...a new consumer-electronics product that people will buy from Intel through a new brand," Huggers said.
As indicated, the company will actually provide the TV service and hardware directly to consumers rather than rely on third-parties. He said Intel is currently working with the entire television industry to determine how to distribute live television, to offer “catch-up TV”, and other TV-based services across the Internet. Intel believes there can be an all-in-one solution that will please content owners and cable/satellite providers.
Like Apple, Intel is looking to fix a broken TV industry by changing the way media is consumed in the living room. And like Apple, Intel has seen an opposition from Hollywood, cable and satellite providers who are reluctant to alter the current (lucrative) system, to “unbundle” and license specific networks and shows at a discount.
But according to Huggers, potential customers won’t save any money by ditching their current cable provider for Intel’s solution. They also won’t be able to pick and choose their own channels, but rather will be forced to subscribe to bundles created by the Intel team.
"What consumers want is choice, control, and convenience," Huggers said. "If bundles are bundled right, there's real value in that.... I don't believe the industry is ready for pure a la carte."
Thus Intel plans to provide smaller bundles than what’s offered via cable providers, seemingly allowing consumers to “cut the crap” that typically comes packed with cable and satellite TV subscriptions.
Intel tried once before to enter the TV industry through a Sony Google TV set-top box, a Logitech Google TV set-top box, and other Smart TVs. When the first-generation Google TV devices failed to gain any traction, the company stopped pushing its chips and shuttered its TV business in late 2011.
"We have been working for (the past) year to set up Intel Media, a new group focused on developing an Internet platform," Huggers said. "It's not a value play, it's a quality play where we'll create a superior experience for the end user."
Huggers said the set-top box, which will be the central point of Intel’s TV service, will be able to “steer content and ads toward specific users” thanks to the built-in camera.