The slogan might currently read “Intel Inside,” but the chip-making giant is aiming to append “your living room” to the phrase as the company looks to roll out the its Viiv digital media platform in early 2006. To that end, Intel has announced it’s working with more than 40 companies to create services and software supporting Viiv technology.
Viivâ€”which rhymes with “five”â€”is a PC-based platform based on Microsoft’s Windows Media Center operating system, but it’s also a label designed to indicate compatibility between digital media devices and avoid consumer confusion. Viiv compatible products might include more-or-less traditional computers, but also stereo systems, portable DVD players, music devices, LCD photoframes, cameras, and more. Products with the Viiv label (“Enjoy with Intel Viiv technology”) should all work with each other, making consumer choices simpler, much as Intel’s “Centrino” label branded compatible Wi-Fi products together. Viiv-based PCs will be able to manage and reformat media for other Viiv-compatible devices, so users should be able to transfer video content, say, from a camcorder to their computer, and from their computer to their DVR and portable video player with relative transparency, with each device receiving content optimized for its capabilities.
Intel plans to roll out the first Viiv systems in the first quarter of 2006; in the meantime, Intel wants us to know the following companies are working on Viiv-based offerings expected to be available by the end of 2006:
- Movies, Video, and TV: Afendis AG, arvato mobile, Bellrock Media Japan Inc., British Sky Broadcasting, Broadband Tower Inc., Canal + Group, Glowria, Gretech Corporation, LoveFilm.com, MEDION AG, Movielink, NEC, Sohu.com, Telecom Italia, Tiantian Online Inc., TiscaliS.p.A., TiVo, T-Online International, Usen Corporation, and webs-tv Digital International Company.
- Music: Afendis AG, arvato mobile, Avex Network Inc., Gretech Corporation, Loudeye, MEDION AG, Napster, Oricon Inc., SK Telecom, Skysoft Co. Ltd., Telecom Italia, Tiantian Online Inc., and VirginMega.
- Games: arvato mobile, CAPCOM, CCR Inc., DISCover’s My Games, Exent Technologies, Metaboli, NHN, Ourgame, Square Enix Co., Telecom Italia, The 9 Limited, TWP Corporation, and Ubisoft.
- Photos: Adobe, arvato mobile, CyberLink Corporation, muvee Technologies, Pinnacle, Ulead Systems, and Sonic Solutions.
Intel also touts that it’s offering specs, tools, and engineering support to content providers and distributors to create Viiv-compatible Internet-based content services.
Almost as interesting as the list itselfâ€”and potentially powerful partnerships with TiVo, Ubisoft, CAPCOM, Adobeâ€”is the names Intel isn’t able to call out. Key among them, Apple Computer, whose dominance of the legal music download and portable music player market make it a key player, and whose forthcoming switch from PowerPC to Intel-based processors would seem to make it a ripe target for wooing. Also missing: consumer electronics giants like Panasonic, Hitachi, Samsung, and Sony.
It’s still too early to pronounce any verdict on the success of Viivâ€”clearly, Intel is betting it can carve out a place for itself in people’s living rooms as both a technology provider and a trusted partner of content companies. But Viiv’s success as a technology label will likely hinge on its inclusiveness and compatibility, rather than upon the exclusivity of its partnerships.