Mike Isaac

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Erik Huggers Makes His Case for Intel’s Web TV Service

erik_huggers2Finally, Intel’s worst-kept secret is out in the open. Intel will be launching a Web TV service sometime this year.

But can the chip company upend some of the initial concerns before actually getting the service off the ground?

In conversation with Peter Kafka and Walt Mossberg at D: Dive Into Media on Tuesday, corporate VP of Intel Media Erik Huggers tried to make the case that yes, the hardware company can make a compelling case to market Web TV to consumers.

But it’s an uphill battle. The service requires purchasing a new box (the name of which is yet to be announced), which Huggers says is needed to deliver “the full experience” Intel wants. That’s opposed to just creating software for existing hardware like tablets and mobile phones, though Huggers suggested Intel may offer additional different experiences for, say, mobile devices.

Huggers also said he thinks Intel can deliver its pay TV service via the Internet without its users going over the data caps that are increasingly common throughout the industry. In other words, you’ve got a whole swath of new TV watchers now sucking down bandwidth at far faster rates than before, but Intel believes that users won’t come up against those walls.

And Intel won’t be offering “a la carte” programming, either. In other words, expect bundles of programming like those offered with other major TV packages. But Huggers’s pitch is for a better bundle, smarter and more well-curated.

“If bundles are bundled right … I think there is real value in that,” he said.

Perhaps the biggest marketing point is also Intel’s most difficult sell: The built-in camera that comes with Intel’s new mystery box. It watches your movements and TV viewing habits with the aim of personalizing the way your household watches television — not to mention being much more helpful to those in the ad biz doing the targeting.

“My kids may watch programming geared toward them, and I’ll watch programming geared toward me,” Huggers said. “If there’s a way to distinguish who is watching what, advertisers can then target ads at the proper parties.”

Huggers’ “personalization” talk was the best way to sell that pitch to potential Web TV viewers, but obviously the practice raises massive privacy concerns.

Perhaps the largest sticking point of all is, it isn’t a “value play” by Intel, as Huggers put it. Meaning it won’t necessarily be cheaper than any of the existing offerings in the field.

So in a nutshell, Huggers wants you to buy a great-looking box with a superior UI and potentially personalized content streams. That’s a tough pitch, to say the least. We’ll see if Intel is in it for the long haul if users aren’t immediately convinced.

“Rome wasn’t built in a day,” he said. “It’ll take time.”


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Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge.

— Author Tim Kreider on not getting paid for one’s work