Intel TV service already being tested by hundreds of users
Intel may only have fessed up to building its own TV service this week, but the offering is already being tested by several hundred employees of the company. Intel Media boss Erik Huggers, whose unit is in
charge of the service, told me on the sidelines of the Dive into Media conference in Dana Point, California this week that the friends and family test began in recent weeks, and that it was one of the reasons for breaking his silence on the project now.
Huggers said on stage at the conference Tuesday that his company is building a set-top box that will be fueled by a service that combines live TV, video on demand and a catch-up component similar to the BBC’s iPlayer. U.K. viewers can use the iPlayer to watch anything that aired on the BBC within the last week, and Huggers was in charge of launching the project for the broadcaster. “American audiences have not yet experienced a proper catch-up service,” he told me.
Intel Media is preparing to launch the service in the U.S. before the end of the year through a mix of retail partnerships and direct sales to consumers. A lot of details are still under wraps, including the name of the service, the exact programming available, as well as its eventual price. However, Huggers said on Tuesday that his goal was neither complete unbundling nor undercutting cable. “We are not a value play,” he said, adding: “We are a quality play.”
There was some backlash Tuesday about Intel’s announcement, namely that the device would come with a camera that would be able to identify viewers and service personalized ads. In talking to me, Huggers tried to put it in perspective by comparing it to other consumer electronics products, asking: “How many millions of homes have a Kinect device?” Of course, one could argue that people might be much less accepting of the Kinect if it was being used to identify individual users and relay that information to Microsoft.
Intel Media is run as an independent unit within Intel, overseen by a separate board, and many folks within Intel didn’t even know what the unit was up to until this week. That separation also included a lot of outside hires, and even some cooperation with small, external companies, as we first reported in January. “We are not following the playbook of Intel,” acknowledged Huggers during our interview. “We are trying to do something that is rather left field for Intel.”
Now it becomes clearer how such an absence of common sense could happen in the Intel Media group. Apparently this group is run as a quasi-separate entity without Intel's normal management review as the author states, "many folks within Intel didn't even know what the unit was up to until this week". Well, Intel's management needs to get up to speed fast because this group's plan to spy on consumers could create a public relations disaster in a hurry.
And Hugger's response to the spying topic compares what they are doing to the Kinect box. Well Kinect box is a completely different product. Some products need a camera to perform their basic function. Videoconferencing gear needs a camera. Kinect box needs a camera to see the game participant's motion, but Intel's Web TV doesn't need a camera at all to stream its programming - it only needs a camera if they intend to video you and your family members package them up with as much personal data as they can grab, and to sell to anyone willing to pay.
For the sake of Intel Corporate, it's time for real management to intervene in this rogue project.
This is not about peeping - how do you qualify the "data".
A google search from an individual can quickly be quantified and qualified but there won't be 1000 people hired by cable company watching surveillance tapes from the family room - how can you "spy" and obtain meaningful info?
IMO this is very far from being a rogue project, it has been in the making for years,& as far as the camera is concerned,some people like the idea of video conferencing/child screening/show selection/etc. INTC IMO has to much on the ball to let a privacy issue that can be so easily be remedied be the stumbling block,give it a chance.I think if INTC can offer a quality experiance people will want it, time will tell.