It seems Intel wants set-top box to be a new device category. So, similar to smartphones and tablets, set-top boxes can be developed using an OS like Android or Windows or Tizen ...and then additional features can be added by each hw maker.
Hmm. General Instruments defined the set top box in 1982 or thereabouts. Doesn't it seem as if INTC is a little behind these days? I mean, seriously, dozens of companies have done hundreds of set top boxes in the past twenty years. Do you really think they overlooked something? And, the BOM for these things is in the fifteen to twenty five dollar range.
Intel's vision is for every home to have a Media Server (with Intel inside). The Media Server can be in the form of a set-top/streaming box (like Ruko or Apple TV), or a game console (like Xbox or Wii), or built into the TV (Smart TV). Intel's Live TV service was meant to accelerate this vision since cable operators are happy with the status quo and will not work with any other hw maker. Intel can also generate additional revenue by selling the Live TV service to hardware makers such as Ruko, MS (for the xbox), Sony (nintendo) or Samsung (smart tv). Intel can also use this service as leverage to encourage hardware makers to build their set-top boxes with Intel inside.
Intel normally releases a reference design when they don't intend to make the device themselves. If this is the device that's supposed to be used for Intel Web TV releasing a reference design now may mean the service is far from being ready, especially if they are just now looking for vendors to make it.