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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."