Intel’s Internet TV ambitions took a hit when a top engineer in the effort recently left the company.
Jim Baldwin, who joined Intel after leaving Microsoft in 2011, had been vice president and general manager of the Engineering Division for Intel Media. Baldwin left the giant chip maker to pursue other opportunities, Intel confirmed to journalists April 22, while Baldwin’s LinkedIn profile simply says that he has “retired” from the company.
Baldwin’s departure could be a setback for Intel’s TV plans, which include building a set-top box that will enable consumers to bring TV shows, on-demand content and other services from the Internet and into their televisions. The TV is part of a larger effort by Intel to expand the reach of its silicon technologies beyond traditional PCs and servers, according to Intel officials.
Like other tech vendors such as Hewlett-Packard and Dell, Intel has been hit hard by the downturn in PC sales worldwide over the past couple of years as consumers and business users focus more on tablets and smartphones. Intel is pushing to gain a foothold in the mobile device space, and also is branching out in other areas, including storage and networking products.
Intel executives said April 16 that the company’s Client Group generated $8 billion in revenue in the first quarter, a 6 percent drop from the same period in 2012.
During a conference in February, Erik Huggers, head of the company’s Intel Media unit, said devices like TVs are on Intel’s radar.
“Intel is very interested in getting into the consumer businesses,” Huggers said at the AllThingsD conference. “We’ve taken a leap of faith that the time is here.”
Intel’s plan is to launch the Intel-powered Internet set-top box and accompanying software later this year, which will put it into competition against not only traditional cable and satellite TV companies, but also viewing devices from the likes of Apple and Roku. Through the technology, users would be able to view on-demand and live content on a range of devices, including smartphones and tablets. In addition, there reportedly will be a camera looking out that will be able to detect who is watching and make viewing suggestions accordingly.
In addition, the consumer-facing camera reportedly will enable users to watch programming with people in other locations.
According to Intel, Baldwin had a crucial role in the company’s consumer plans. According to a profile on Intel’s Website, he was “responsible for defining Intel’s vision for connected product and services in the living room, bringing together engineering and user experience teams to build products, services, and world-class user experience throughout.”
Before coming to Intel, Baldwin was CTO for television, video and music at Microsoft and helped create Mediaroom, a platform for Internet television services. He came to Microsoft when the software giant bought WebTV.
Speculation about Intel’s TV ambitions has been around for months, and Hugger said Intel has spent the past year building up its Internet media team, including hiring people away from the likes of Apple, Google and Netflix. Intel was expected to unveil the project during the 2013 Consumer Electronics Show in January, but the announcement was delayed, reportedly over Intel’s difficulties in getting licensing agreements from some content producers.