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Intel sees big picture

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The chipmaker is confident that the Smart TV will gather momentum..

Google TVat CES, Las Vegas.
Google TVat CES, Las Vegas.

Swetha Kannan

Among tablets, smartphones, gaming devices and other sleek gadgets, the small screen too was making big news at this year's Consumer Electronics Show at Las Vegas.

The good old TV has taken a snazzy new avtar, with ‘smart' features and functions, but will it actually lead to significant sales for manufacturers? 3D TV is expected to make heads turn this year, but what about the other big buzzword of the day — the smart TV?

The smart TV, which blends the Web with the TV, has prompted a flurry of technology companies and OEMs to get into the action with frenzy. Google TV, which was launched late last year in Sony and Logitech TV sets, met with muted consumer response. But that did not stop other manufacturers such as Samsung from announcing their smart TV launches at CES this year. Yahoo! too has its ‘Connected TV' offering in tie-up with manufacturer Toshiba.

So what makes smart TV the next big thing in TV? Smart TV creates a seamless experience on the television screen with access to both broadcast and Internet content. Smart TV devices add to the TV, interactive features such as browsing, search, and other personalised applications. For e.g: If you are watching Dhobi Ghat and want to search for similar movies or ones with Aamir Khan, you can, on your TV screen, do a query on the Internet and get the information. Or you can go to Facebook and say you are watching Dhobi Ghat.

Intel, which provides the underlying silicon technology for Google TV (it runs on Intel Atom processors), is happy with the momentum Google TV has got so far. Consumer interest will set in slowly in 2011, and, going forward, smart TV will gather steam, says Intel.

Says Lance Koenders, VP of marketing for Digital Home Group, Intel: “We expect customer interest and momentum to remain strong into 2011 and beyond. Smart TV was a major theme at the Consumer Electronics Show. This first wave of smart TV products, which includes Google TV, is exciting and we're optimistic with the direction of the category.”

At an Intel-sponsored media event to the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Paul Otellini, President and Chief Executive Officer, Intel Corporation, said 2011 was going to be an exciting year for the company and among the various innovations, smart TV shows a lot of promise. In fact, the chip manufacturing company sees significant growth in its consumer electronics silicon business this year, driven by the smart TV category of products.

Currently the prices of smart TV hover around the $500-mark. But for a price-sensitive market such as India, Intel is looking to make the smart TV a mass-market product for $50-100. Given that Internet penetration is low in the country, this could make a big difference. The Intel global CTO, Justin Rattner, who was in Bangalore recently, said initial work is in progress regarding this.

Adds Koenders: “Intel does plan to continue to further optimise our system-on-chip products for specific segments of the market as well as building products for different price points and region-specific technical requirements. In doing so, we will be able to better serve key emerging markets such as India.”

swethak@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated January 31, 2011)
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