Who needs Vista in Q4 when you have Viiv

Continuing my morning at Intel, Don MacDonald, vice president and general manager of Intel's Digital Home Group, was next up. We asked him about the Vista delay.

Continuing my morning at Intel, Don MacDonald, vice president and general manager of Intel's Digital Home Group, was next up. We asked him about the Vista delay. "I think people will buy based on innovation. We will have 250 Viiv designs [Intel's digital entertainment brand] by end of the year," MacDonald said.  "Vista is a wonderful product...Viiv has plenty of innovation, and there will be lots of exciting things for consumer with the holiday refresh. We'll make it a Viiv holiday season...we have a beautiful array of devices--I'm personally not too bothered."

That sounds like wishful thinking. Viiv is ambitious and an important movement (sharing content and making all your devices interoperate, such as PCs, TVs, DVRs, etc.) in the PC world, but it is still a kind of mystery brand. There are also gnarly DRM issues that Viiv is trying to handle, but it's still not a seamless experience. For example, if you have a PVR and try to record high definition content, you can only record in standard format, MacDonald said.  With Vista, Viiv systems could enjoy the drag effect, but without Vista, it's a much harder sell--unless Microsoft offer free upgrades for Q4 purchasers.


MacDonald sad that getting traction for the Viiv proposition and products isn't an overnight phenomenon. "Whoever thinks we will have brand traction [with Viiv] in three months doesn't understand branding. Centrino [Intel's wireless brand] is still infant as a brand, and now we have fresh fish like dual core. Branding takes years...it is supposed to be a shorthand way to make a simplifed purchase design. In terms of brand promise, "content is to Viiv is what wireless is to Centrino," MacDonald said. He hopes that Viiv will eventually replace the Pentium in Intel's brand constellation.

The Intel Centrino sell was preaching to the converted, MacDonald said, but Viiv's marketing thrust is more experiential, showing people what they can do with the technology to make their digital content creation and consumption easier. Intel spent $30 million and hundreds of man hours and found hundreds of problems with standards for Centrino--its a similar situation for Viiv with sorting out standards and making all the devices interoperate, MacDonald said. "Viiv will be able to do things that other [non-Viiv] systems can't do," he said.

MacDonald expects that the large PC vendors will focus on their core markets, which creates some problems for Viiv with its living room focus. "The big guys didn't embrace tablets and new devices, and focused on their core," he said. Companies like Onkyo, Phillips, and BoxOne will develop for the living room and HP will do both mainstream PCs and living room systems, he added. "TheCore Duo and other ingredients, such as low power, is ideal for the living room, but I would like to have my cake and eat it too., and get people excited about desktop PCs again." Viiv will be going beyond the living room and into areas such as healthcare and online communication, MacDonald said.


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