Intel links with movie, music powers for ViiV PCs

ViiV PCs won't just come with fancy processors and screens. They will also feature on-demand media services

Michael Kanellos Staff Writer, CNET News.com
Michael Kanellos is editor at large at CNET News.com, where he covers hardware, research and development, start-ups and the tech industry overseas.
Michael Kanellos
3 min read
Next year, coming to a PC near you: easy access to French TV programs. And most any other entertainment link your heart might desire.

Intel is working with film distributors, music publishers, game developers and other entertainment companies to integrate their offerings into an upcoming line of upscale entertainment PCs branded with the Santa Clara, Calif.-based chip giant's ViiV technology.

Companies such as French TV giant Canal Plus and British Sky Broadcasting will provide desktop links that give consumers online access to their libraries of digital content, said Kevin Corbett, vice president and general manager of the Content Services Group in Intel's Digital Home Group.

Japan's Bellrock Media, meanwhile, will release made-for-the-Internet content via a link on ViiV PCs. With one or two clicks, consumers should be able to link to exclusive videos from this international talent agency.

The price, extent and complete offerings of these services will vary in different regions of the world, but all of the ViiV-branded PCs will come with links for at least one movie service, music service, online game service and photo service.

For years, technology companies and entertainment conglomerates have negotiated over how to bring movies and other content to desktops and laptops. The slow, grinding pace of the negotiations began to improve in 2004 and have now turned into a flood with networks and film studios announcing deals at a regular clip.

While some credit the fall release of Apple Computer's video iPod for starting the watershed, much of the heavy lifting on many recent deals was likely complete by that time. At the beginning of the year, entertainment execs were already stating that content deals between studios and tech companies would hit by late 2005 to early 2006.

"There was an inevitability to it," Corbett said. "Thirty-eight million PCs in the U.S. are broadband connected. That's like 38 million set top boxes."

The ViiV technology is Intel's attempt to expand the upscale segment of the home PC market. ViiV computers will sport Intel's top-of-the-line processors, the Windows XP Media Center Edition operating system and a host of technologies designed to take some of the pain out of trying to use a home computer as a digital video recorder or a stereo. Simplification will become one of ViiV's big selling points.

"In most cases, the services (bundled onto ViiV PCs) will be available on most PCs, but it is not for the feint of heart," he said. "The PC can do many things, but because it is so flexible it can be difficult for consumers."

Like Centrino for laptops, PC makers must include a number of Intel parts and technologies before they can apply the ViiV brand to a computer. To ensure that media services will work smoothly on ViiV, Intel tests how these services interact with a PC in a variety of situations.

ViiV PCs will come out in the first quarter of next year; Intel will show them off at the Consumer Electronics Show. Intel unfurled the brand and the strategy in August.