Guess who’s coming to dinner.

by Colin McGuire. 0 Comments

A new year means new calendars, fresh attitudes, thousands of unobtainable goals and a higher probability for us copy editors to somehow mess up the dates on the top of each page in the newspaper (it’s not that we actually miss you, 2012 — it’s just that we can’t get the smell of your perfume out of our jackets and frankly, it’s become grating). However, for Intel, the gigantic, all-encompassing chip-making mega-company, the new year means … a stab at being the first to figure out an accessible way for us to use Internet television. “Hooray!” said a few people who make tons of money and live in California. “Wait — what’s a Pentium processor?” everyone else asked.

From Don Clark and Christopher S. Stewart at The Wall Street Journal …

“The chip maker’s surprise interest in the crowded pay-television business was disclosed last March by The Wall Street Journal, which reported Intel had told media companies it hoped to launch a service by the end of 2012,” they wrote. “The timing now seems uncertain. One person familiar with Intel’s thinking on Monday predicted the company would launch its offering by mid-2013. Another person said a service might not arrive until as late as the fourth quarter, citing delays in reaching content-licensing agreements with entertainment companies that own major TV channels.”

Boy, that whole content-licensing thing is just a drag, isn’t it?!

Among the prospective partners in Intel’s quest to be a true player in the Internet TV world? You guessed it — Google and its ill-fated, trying-oh-so-hard-but-coming-up-oh-so-short cute, little project that could, Google TV. The Big G recently threw in the towel on Intel’s chips (word is, they hate sour cream & onion … bing!), in favor of products from something called ARM Holdings, the sister company of LEG Grabbing.

OK. That sister-company thing was a joke.

Anyway, this left Intel with something called Intel Media to oversee its efforts into figuring out a game plan for this whole Web TV thing. They even went as far as hiring what they called “Internet TV Specialists,” to which I say … are you hiring? And now, after spending a bunch of time trying to figure out how to break into the clique, it appears as though the smart, lonely kid eating lunch at a table by himself is ready to try out for the football team. The question now is, what does he want to do as he hears his number being called to run the ball on fourth-and-seven?

“Intel has pitched media companies on a plan to create a ‘virtual cable operator,’ which would offer U.S. television channels nationwide over the Internet in a bundle similar to subscriptions sold by cable- and satellite-TV operators,” The Journal scribes wrote. “The company, besides expertise in chips for set-top boxes, has expertise in server technology that could help serve up video programming and other content.”

Oh, but wait for the cool part.

“For PCs and tablet computers, Intel has lately been talking up what it calls ‘perceptual computing,’ based on adding technologies such as speech recognition and face analysis,” they added. “One of the people familiar with Intel’s plans said a set-top box under development may combine such capabilities with those common on social networks, helping to make TV-watching more of a shared experience with multiple users.”

Smile at your TV, and you get “Arrested Development” reruns. Frown, and you’ve got nothing but a “Big Bang Theory” blooper reel. How neat is that?

And so it goes. Apple and Intel seem to be running in the 1-2 spots as the race to the Web television finish line completes its first few furlongs. CNN’s Fortune subsidiary even said as much earlier today. Indeed, 2013 might be the year we finally see somebody reach the final stretch.

All right. I am now officially out of horse-racing metaphors, so may a good weekend be had by all, and to all a good night.

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