It would seem lately that just about every big name in technology is looking into Internet-connected TV platforms in one form or another, from rumors about a new video-on-demand service from Verizon to endless talk about the expansion of Apple TV.
The latest player trying to make a name for itself in this space is Intel. The Wall Street Journal reported on Monday that the chip maker is developing an Internet-based TV service for U.S. consumers.
The Silicon Valley company has for several months been pitching media companies on a plan to create a "virtual cable operator," which would offer their U.S. TV channels nationwide over the Internet in a bundle similar to subscriptions sold by cable- and satellite-TV operators, according to people familiar with the effort. Intel wouldn't provide Internet access, which subscribers would obtain separately.
This sounds like it has the potential to give consumers not only more choices when it comes to picking a cable provider, but also more control over the content they're buying. There has been more debate recently about letting consumers pick and choose their cable channels, à la carte style, rather than being forced to pay $50-$100 a month for dozens of channels you'll never watch. Could Intel finally answer this wish?
Possibly, but that's going to take considerable time and negotiation. As for the nitty-gritty details, obviously this platform would run on Intel hardware, but what that hardware will look like is still quite a mystery with the exception of being described as a "set-top box."
If this turns out to be true and all goes well for Intel, we could be seeing this platform emerge before the end of the year.