Intel is in the midst of developing its own online TV streaming service and hardware to match, leaks disclosed Monday. It would create a form of virtual TV that would sell access in cable- and satellite-style bundles, the Wall Street Journal understood. While possibly a white box service that would let others put their own badge on top, Intel would sometimes run under its own name.
Details of the hardware would be short, but it already had an interface in development.
If validated, at least the service was targeted for a late 2012 release, although Intel was still a distance away from deals. It was polling networks for how much it would need to pay for access to subscription and on demand content. No deals had yet been struck, an insider said, although CEO Paul Otellini was believed directly involved.
The efforts would mark the first real instance of Intel dipping into providing content beyond its struggling AppUp store as well as a major shift away from Intel's core focuses on traditional PCs and, more lately, mobile. Leaks of meetings have suggested Intel wanted a way to sell directly to the public, rather than just as a part supplier, as well as reduce dependence on PCs as a whole.
Intel has been involved in TV device support before, producing all-in-one Atom chips for cable boxes and digital media hubs. Its most recent attempt to encourage adoption through forming the basis of early Google TV devices, however, is widely believed to have flopped. High prices for Intel hardware, along with a lack of enthusiasm for Google's approach so far, has kept Google TV small even when compared to the Apple TV's "hobby" status. Google TV is now making a broader move to ARM, where chips cost less and Android apps might be more easily ported over.
Intel has stayed successful even in the midst of economic slumps and the early tablet rush sparked by the iPad. Slowing PC sales may take their toll, and Intel is currently racing to catch up in mobile. If realized, its new venture would still pit it both at odds with cable and satellite providers as well as with iTunes, Netflix, and other Internet video outlets.