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Intel and Smart TVs Part II - Intuitive, Limitless, Extensible

Intel unveiled eight smart TVs that have its processors at CES, as we reported last week

By PETER WHITE

Published: 3 February, 2011

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Intel unveiled eight smart TVs that have its processors at CES, as we reported last week. Intel defines smart TVs as having more than just a few widgets. Every Blu-ray player must have an Internet connection, but that doesn’t qualify them as smart TV-capable, although even the most basic model has over one million lines of software code.

Intel says that devices without a full-blown operating system and, hopefully, its processers, are not smart TVs. Intel has earned its smart TV credentials. In addition to coining the term “smart TV,” it worked with and provided technology to Yahoo and Google for their smart TV platforms. It likens smart TVs to the evolution of cell phones and says the same evolution will happen to TVs:

An OS and a powerful processor like Intel’s are needed, it said, for a quality user interface with lots of functions. Smart TVs must be as intuitive as Apple TV is, extensible so the user can add apps, and limitless in its ability to search and play content from three sources: broadcast, online video services and the user’s personal content that’s stored on a local network.

Intel does not require smart TVs that use its processors to have a full-blown browser, as we previously reported.

It currently recognizes four OSs as suitable for smart TVs: Google’s Android, the MeeGo OS that Intel developed with Nokia, Microsoft’s Media Center without the PC-centric features and, of course Apple’s iOS, which does not use Intel chips. TV set makers could also cobble together their own version of Linux, but that would seem to have a limited life expectancy. Intel thinks that manufacturers will need to build in smart TV technology to run the software and online services they’ll need to compete.

After Yahoo launched Yahoo Connected TV two years ago, it was slow to push the technology to set makers and get more content sources and apps. We kept asking why there wasn’t a Yahoo TV to compete with Apple and more marketing for the platform. Perhaps Yahoo became distracted by external factors, such as Microsoft’s attempt to buy Yahoo and the change of CEOs. Both caused extensive reorganization at Yahoo. The meetings we had with Yahoo Connected TV people indicates that the company has its act together and is moving forward rapidly, as we reported two weeks ago.

Intel says the content owners’ blockade keeping Google TV from playing their Web videos is a matter of reconciling business models. The owners have existing and very profitable deals with the pay-TV services that they do not want to endanger. If the owners give their content away on the Net, it said, why should pay-TV companies pay them for it?

An Intel spokesman confirmed our prior report that the content owners detect the special version of the Chrome browser on Google TV to block access to their sites. Google could work around the blockade by changing the browser but doesn’t. That, he said, shows Google is not trying to avoid the restrictions and shows it is not antagonistic towards the owners. Of course, Google has a bad track record with the owners, and its YouTube operation is being sued by Viacom for copyright violations.

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