Last year the rumour mill began to bubble as rumours that the chipmaking giant, Intel, was planning to launch an Internet-based television service. Rumours also had it that Intel would also launch their own top box technology.
At this week's allthingsD event, Intel vice president, Erik Huggers finally confirmed that the rumours were indeed true.
Huggers stated that Intel had started up Intel Media about a year ago, also adding that "It's a new division with new people - people from Apple, Netflix, and Google. And it's devoted to developing an Internet television platform."
Interestingly, the Intel set top box will also have an integrated camera that'll be able to see who is watching the TV to so that more personalised content can be delivered.
Aside from setting the proverbial cat amongst the pigeons in the US TV market, The move by Intel also potentially lends a lot of legitimacy to internet TV services at a particularly interesting point in time for New Zealand.
In New Zealand UFB is adoption appears to be stalled as few consumers see the extra speed and cost of fibre as being a sufficiently compelling reason to upgrade when their existing broadband is already fast enough. Could a greater focus on content be what is needed?
Vodafone's recent acquisition of TelstraClear could soon see the UK telco entering the IPTV space via the extensive cable network already in place in both Wellington and Christchurch and the T-Box which is said to already be IPTV capable.
Equally significantly, this move could force Telecom and other telco players to re-evaluate their stance on IPTV as so called "triple play" bundles up the competitive ante. Then of course there are also rumours constantly circulating about an IPTV offering from SkyTV whose iSKY service is already available as well as catch-up services from free to air TV players. Question is would any of the above players be willing to partner with Intel?
Adding even more interest to an already dynamic situation is the soon to be launched Freeview and quickflix option which will see streamed TV and movie content becoming readily available on many of the 500,000 or so Freeview-capable TVs and set top boxes already in use in NZ.
Whilst Intel's service is expected to launch before the end of the year in the US market, they have yet to disclose any plans for the service beyond the US market. Here's hoping they launch here sooner rather than later, as doing so could not only result in a richer pool of content but also in more opportunities for local content producers, or better still, an honest to goodness sci-fi channel.By Pat Pilcher