Yesterday, Apple CEO Tim Cook, in a fireside chat, tried to convince the world that Apple is still the center of innovation in the technology world. Cook said that about one quarter of Apple employees were working on new products. There were no specifics but presumably new products include iTV.
While Cook was being vague, Intel was beating iTV to the punch, at least in terms of announcing a new TV service with a fair amount of details.
What is a semiconductor company doing announcing a TV service? Besides making semiconductors, Intel also employs more than 10,000 programmers and has taken stakes in about 400 start ups. Many of these start ups are related to media.
Intel brought in Erik Huggers, who had previously launched a high profile internet based service and app called iPlayer at BBC. Huggers hired a dream team from companies such as Apple, Microsoft and Rovi.
Intel’s history in TV boxes is one of failures. Some readers may recall failed efforts like Logitech’s Revue based on Google technology that used TV optimized chips from Intel. In 2011, Intel closed its retail TV business.
In spite of Intel’s past failures, there is precedence of success in Xbox. Microsoft, a software company, ended up producing a hugely successful device in Xbox.
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Intel is not only producing a TV set top box, it plans to provide streaming content over the internet. Intel will be competing not only with cable providers such as Comcast, but also with the likes of Netflix and Hulu Plus.
There is no way to know if this time will be a charm for Intel in the TV business. However, Intel does bring some advantages and the effort is worthwhile. The Intel name is not only well known to consumers, it is a well-respected name. Content providers are wary of Apple; they saw what Apple did to the music business and they do not want to make the same mistake again. Content providers are likely to welcome a major technology firm such as Intel with open arms just to make sure Apple does not become dominant in providing video content. For this reason, I have recommended to my subscribers a small starter position in Intel.
Will Intel ultimately become a threat to Apple iTV? One thing is for sure, Intel has beaten Apple to the punch by announcing the service.