Intel Leaps Ahead To Convergence
In what is sure to be a preview of CES 2006, word is out that Intel is going to be re-branding itself with a new product line focused on the nascent digital home entertainment market. Rather than staking its name awareness with consumers on its chips and microprocessors, Intel's new marketing campaigns will be focused instead on the digital lifestyles that the company's new product lines will enable.
For years Intel's ad campaigns and branding efforts have been built around the "Intel Inside" logo, which denoted when Intel hardware was driving a product. Intel's new rallying logo will be "Leap ahead," denoting the company's shift to marketing based on the new digital music, networking and video features that will be powered by its Viiv (rhymes with five) home media and entertainment PC platforms.
More details are certain to emerge at CES, but Intel is claiming that Viiv-based "entertainment PCs" will be DVD player sized boxes that integrate the functionality of PCs and home entertainment systems. Using a Viiv-based system as a hub, users will be able to enjoy DVR-like TV watching with advanced time-shifting, access online gaming, download and access photos, music and movies and then distribute any of this digital content through a networked home.
Intel's Viiv web site claims these entertainment PCs will be available in Q1 of 2006, but later this week we'll know for sure.
Stern Claus Brings Sirius A Present
Sirius Satellite Radio has over three million subscribers waiting for Howard Stern when he debuts on pay radio next week. According to reports Sirius started the quarter with 2.17 million subscribers, and got the big hit it needed from Stern supporters over the holiday season to end the year with over three million subscribers.
America's premiere "shock jock" has been embattled in recent years with the FCC, which by some accounts has fined the outrageous Stern as much as three million dollars for various acts the government agency regarded as indecent. Over a year ago Stern stunned virtually everybody by announcing that he'd be moving his controversial show to satellite radio with Sirius starting in 2006. His first Sirius broadcast is next Monday.
The Stern scenario represents a big gamble for Sirius, which is paying an astounding $500 million over the next five years to produce and broadcast the show and pay all the salaries involved. Sirius itself has estimated that it needs a million new subscribers to cover the costs associated with the Howard Stern agreement.
Sirius' main competitor is XM Satellite Radio, who is still in charge with around five million subscribers. By some estimates, Sirius showed faster growth than its rival. Sirius added 359,294 subscribers in the third quarter, up 20% from the prior quarter. In Q3 XM was up 14% from the prior quarter. Industry analysts see satellite radio as a growth market, and it's believed that Stern's move to Sirius has raised satellite radio's overall visibility with consumers significantly.