Fast Company

Intel: Don't Make TVs Into PCs

Between Google and Apple TV and a slew of Internet-enabled televisions hitting shelves this holiday season, it's only a matter of time before the keyboard replaces the remote control. Right? Not according to Intel Fellow, and Most Creative anthropologist Genevieve Bell, who, after spending years studying consumer habits, believes the PC isn't taking over the TV.

Speaking at a small Intel gathering today in New York City, Bell discussed how many companies including Intel sought to bring computers to the living room--and were met with near-universal failure.

"Do you want to live in a world where your Tivo says, I'm terribly sorry, before you can see this next show, I have to defrag myself? Or the next time your set-top box says, I know we're in the middle of the playoffs but I need new drivers--no content view until downloaded?" Bell said. "People don't want their televisions to turn into a computer. People actually love their televisions because it turns out they're nothing like computers. They are not demanding--televisions don't require you to enter passwords!"

Since coming to this conclusion, Intel has entirely changed its direction. Now, the company is focused on bringing the Internet to television in a way that's TV-friendly, meaning it doesn't interrupt the experience with the regular junk and clutter of most operating systems. "The right answer was not: Intel will liberate the computer lurking inside of every TV, which was our next point of strategy," Bell explained.

Rather, Intel wants to bring the Web to TVs in the same way it was brought to the mobile space. Bell points to Yahoo widgets and Google TV, arguing that many companies are taking cues from the mobile Web, which didn't see success until it was "fragmented into manageable pieces--that is, apps."

"When the Internet comes to TV, that same reshaping will happen," she said. "The Internet is going to be changed by television."

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2 Comments

  • Shimon Shmueli

    TV stands for tele-vision, originally because it allowed people to see the studio from afar. While we may continue to use the term for another 90 years, the discussion needs to be detached from the model that most of us cary in our minds when we hear tee-vee. For that matter the word computer is also misleading. The discussion is layered: start from the experience and drill down to implementations and technologies last. The basic question is what do people want to do with various size screens in their homes in various locations and contexts. These days I find myself in the living room with three screens: large TV connected to a DVD, a PC, a cable box, and Apple TV, and an online iPad, and a 3G iPhone (really a Blackberry soon to be replaced). While I am one who enjoys the experimental aspect of this mess, I am not sure where it is taking me in terms of content consumption and generation, and where me and my family would like to be when the newness is gone. It will be interesting to see how this ecosystem evolves over time, and Genevieve's task is incredibly challenging. One thing I am certain about, and it is incredibly simple: I don't want to be interrupted due to defrag never ever on any product, a tee-vee, a computer, or my GPS implant.

  • Louann Oravec

    We connected our PC to the TV, it is easy to do. You may do everything that you do to a regular TV (watch TV, DVD's, VHS, Play video games, and go on the internet). Ever watch YouTube on a 27" screen, or watch previously missed episodes of your favorite shows, or watch TV shows that have not been on for years (http://www.hulu.com/, and http://www.archive.org/index.p... are great places to do that.