January 02, 2013, 8:30 AM —
Welcome to 2013. Hope everyone had a nice break and now I ask tech companies to get back to work changing everything for the better. (I'm choosing to be an optimist for this first post of the year.) Personally I'm looking forward to on-going changes in the world of television. Every time I look at my cable bill I get irritated by how much I'm paying and the fact that I'm paying for a ton of channels I don't watch, just to get the few I do.
I've recently written about Google TV and Nintendo TVii and while I'm glad to see companies are working towards helping us get more value out of the services we have, what I think we really need are new services. Google Fiber is one good example ($120/month for gigabit Internet and TV) but of course you need to live in Kansas City for that. Google has talked about expanding the service but if they have any definite plans for deploying outside that immediate area, they haven't shared them with the public yet.
But here's a new possibility: Intel. According to a rumor post on TechCrunch Intel is getting ready to roll out its own TV service and set-top box. TechCrunch calls it a "virtual cable service" and it isn't entirely clear what they mean by that, but it seems like Intel intends to compete with, rather than supplement, existing cable providers.
Intel's plan is to roll this service out city-by-city in an effort to facilitate making deals with content providers. The service would bundle together traditional TV and streaming TV services, though again details are murky: does Intel plan its own streaming media service to compete with Netflix, Amazon and now Verizon?
With luck we'll get more details next week during CES as TechCrunch's tipster says Intel will be showing off a working version of the set-top box that will be delivering Intel TV (not an official name).
Even if this rumor is 100% correct we don't have a timeline for widespread deployment and of course we have no idea of pricing but I'll still consider it a 'win' for consumers. Just the fact that companies are ready to challenge the existing cable companies is a step in the right direction, in my opinion.
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