When Intel debuted Viiv at CES 2006, it envisioned the platform as a home entertainment brand that consumers could (and would) rally around. Just as Centrino had become indicative of a particular type of laptop with certain capabilities built in, Viiv was meant to convey superior multimedia performance and ease of use in home theater systems. Viiv-branded PCs sold well, but the brand itself never acquired the same type of identity that made Centrino popular, probably because Intel never clearly articulated what Viiv offered that couldn't be delivered via other software/hardware packages. In response to the brand's continued lackluster performance, Intel is going ahead with its previously reported plans to scale back the Viiv brand. Certain Core 2 processors will now carry the "with Viiv technology" moniker, but the brand itself will no longer be used to denote a specific type of PC. Viiv just went from being a headlining act to a marketing footnote.
The failure of Viiv is instructive, as is the tremendous difference between the very popular Centrino and Viiv efforts. Both names were meant to represent the presence of specific technologies and capabilities, but in Centrino's case, Intel was capable of delivering and controlling all of the hardware that went into making a Centrino into a Centrino. Viiv, by its very nature, required the cooperation of software developers (mainly Microsoft with its Media Center offerings) and content providers.
But Microsoft is making its own way in the home entertainment market, quite without the help of Intel. Microsoft's popular Xbox 360 now offers much of what the company had hoped for in terms of moving content from the Internet into consumers' living rooms, and if the console were ever outfitted with DVR support, then the rationale for Vista's Media Center would be even weaker than it already is.
Not only have the success of the Xbox 360 and the related lack of interest in Microsoft's PC-centric media center vision undercut most of the premise of Viiv, but the growth of the Web as a video distribution mechanism for both studio and user-generated content has also helped make Viiv less relevant. The growth of YouTube and various similar services, has demonstrated that a great many customers prefer creating and establishing their own online content consumption systems, rather than being handed a single solution. A variety of established companies, including major television studios, have also been experimenting with distributing their own content online.
In hindsight, Viiv appears to have focused on the wrong aspects of what consumers want from a "digital entertainment" PC. The majority of users interested in such capabilities appear to be less concerned with a functional remote control and/or access to any particular content as they are with being able to find what they want when they want it.
Going forward, Intel intends to focus on delivering full multimedia content to MIDs, or Mobile Internet Devices. Unlike Viiv, this could actually pay off—this particular device segment is relatively young, and a hardware-focused initiative bent on delivering high performance with limited power could provemore successful.