Remember Convergence? How diverse industries such as telecommunications and entertainment were supposed to merge and create weird new offspring? Well, yesterday at the Intel Developer Forum, Intel and Yahoo announced a bit of partnership/convergence action. They want to build a platform that will embed applications on next-generation HDTVs. The idea, of course, is to bring the web to your TV, without having to mess with a PC. Hardly a new concept, but the muscle of these companies might make it happen.
The upside, at least for Intel, is the opportunity to sell more chips. Intel is clearly big in PCs, but has never gotten its corporate foot into the door of TV technology. Back in 2005, Intel launched Viiv, a internet-connected-TV thing that never went anywhere. But that was PC-centric. Now Intel wants to do it with TVs, either built in, or as a set-top box. The technology (technically, Yahoo's Widget Engine, also known as Konfabulator) could also be built into Blu-ray players and other products.
But how does Yahoo figure into all this?
Yahoo's angle is simple. It wants to sell ad space on this new, feature-rich TV. Imagine a "river of widgets" running across the bottom of the HDTV TV screen, and allowing all kinds of applications. For example, Blockbuster would let you select a movie trailer and play it in high definition on your television. Or you could buy the hat you see in a TV show.
The technology is here, and several consumer electronics manufacturers expressed support. Comcast, Disney, Sony, CBS, Motorola, Samsung, and Toshiba all said it was a good thing. The dream will become real if and when they actually decide to build TVs using it. The Intel-Yahoo partnership has the potential to go global, but for now, this is heading for the U.S. market. Good stuff, I guess. Just cross your fingers that your TV doesn't catch a virus. -Ken C. Pohlmann