Intel digital TV plans hit by rumoured delay

September 30, 2013 | 10:00

Tags: #atom #brian-krzanich #consumer-electronics #digital-tv #intel-atom #media #risc #set-top-box #x86

Companies: #arm #intel

Rumours suggest that Intel's planned push into the TV broadcast and set-top box arena has been hit by a last-minute delay as the company struggles to find partners willing to use its fledgling platform.

While Intel rules the desktop, laptop and server markets with an iron fist, its grip in other areas is somewhat lacking. In his first official speech as Intel's chief executive officer, Brian Krzanich wasn't afraid to admit that a delay moving into the mobile space has hurt the company badly, with Cambridge-based rival ARM stealing a majority share in a burgeoning market. The same lack of focus on low-power, multimedia-centric chips also led to ARM gaining a foothold in digital TV set-top boxes.

Intel's attempts at gaining a larger presence in that market hasn't been a great success: its Atom CE product line, designed specifically for embedded consumer devices, enjoyed early design wins - it was chosen to power the first generation of Google TV set-top boxes - but soon lost steam with the majority of Intel's customers switching to ARM or rival reduced instruction-set computing (RISC) architectures.

A subdivision of the company dubbed Intel Media, headed by Erik Huggers - formerly the director of future media and technology at the BBC - sought to change all that with a two-pronged attack: a platform offering multi-channel TV broadcasting via the internet coupled with low-power system-on-chip (SoC) hardware for the set-top boxes themselves.

Originally, Intel Media had planned to launch the service in the US by the end of this year in order to capitalise on the lucrative Christmas sales period - but an anonymous source speaking to Variety claims that Intel has been forced to delay the launch until some time next year as it struggles to find partners willing to buy in to the company's vision.

According to the site's source, Intel has been approaching industry veterans including Netflix, Amazon, Samsung, and broadcaster Liberty Global to ask about partnerships - but, thus far, nobody is biting. If true, the delay will be a serious blow to Intel's diversification plans and, the site claims, could even lead to the project being mothballed altogether - which would stymie hopes that the service will launch outside the US.

Intel has refused to comment on the source's claims.
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