Intel Moves into Consumer Entertainment With Viiv

26 August 2005

Intel, the globe's largest supplier of electronic chips to the computer industry, has announced an impending assault on the consumer home entertainment market.

It will be backed by some serious money. Around $300 million (€245m; £167m) has been set aside for the debut of the new brand - in the same ballpark as the highly successful launch in March 2003 of its Centrino wireless chipset.

The new brand, christened Viiv (a name seemingly conjured from a parallel universe by a brand development consultancy), will initially be a feature of entertainment personal computers running Windows Media Center Edition, featuring digital video recorders and ideally linked to living room televisions.

Among the built-in gizmos will be surround-sound and the facility to activate or deactivate the computer instantly, like switching on an electric light. Processors with dual 'brains' will handle data-intense tasks such as transcoding from one video format to another.

Addressing an Intel Developer Forum in San Francisco this week, Don MacDonald, head of Intel's Digital Home Group sees "a perishable window of opportunity" to launch and gain acceptance for Viiv.

He continued: "Our brand means nothing in [the consumer electronics] space; to do our job is to make that brand mean something. Centrino was like preaching to the choir 'if you had a notebook, here was a better notebook'. [Viiv] is getting people to do things they are not used to doing."

Intel is moseying into the backyard of tough hombres like Philips, Sony, Texas Instruments and Toshiba which already rule the home entertainment range.

Opines RBC Capital Markets haruspex Apjit Walia: "It's new territory, but if they can replicate the drive that they developed for Centrino, it could be a fairly lucrative venture for them, although the technology really has to support it."

Data sourced from Financial Times Online; additional content by WARC staff