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Intel follows multimedia money

Internet World Few companies have found their fortune on the Internet yet, but Intel thinks it knows where the money is: rich network multimedia applications.

Internet World LOS ANGELES--Few companies have found their fortune on the Internet yet, but Intel (INTC) thinks it knows where the money is: rich network multimedia applications.

In his keynote speech today at Internet World here, Frank Gill, executive vice president and general manager of Intel's Internet and communications group, described how the chip goliath is investing heavily in initiatives to encourage Net-based multimedia development.

Such development, Intel hopes, will create a thirst for faster processors that use its MMX multimedia technology. Gill predicted that there will be a range of applications for business, such as Web sites that allow users to call customers support personnel over a Net phone, that help developers become more profitable.

"A few short years ago the advent of the Web set of an explosion of new people logging on to the Net," Gill said. "It also set off an explosion of investment. Finding that pot of gold has been elusive though. Capturing that pot of gold is all about business."

Gill highlighted a joint effort, Networked Multimedia Connection, announced yesterday by Microsoft, Cisco, and Intel, to spur development of business multimedia applications.

To date, Intel's multimedia efforts have been more focused on consumers than businesses. The company has been active in encouraging "hybrid" application development, that is CD-ROMs that store video and sound but which receive regular updates over the Internet. Today, JamTV, a music oriented multimedia developer, showed a CD-ROM that combined high-quality CD-ROM video with streamed video from the Internet. Intel believes that the better quality and performance of CD-ROM video will relieve some of the frustration users feel downloading video from the Net.

"New customers have grown up in the era of the television set," Gill said. "They characterize their experience as point and wait. We want users to have rich experience without point and wait."

Gill also said that the PC is gradually migrating from desktops into living rooms, though he downplayed the significance of non-PC Internet access products such as WebTV because they are not as powerful as PCs.

"Increasingly we are seeing the PC walking, moving into the living room. Increasingly we're starting to think of this new device as an interactive PC theater. Now, we're talking about interactivity from ten feet instead of two feet. At Intel architecture labs we're busy addressing these problems."

Intel is an investor in CNET: The Computer Network.