Intel prepares channel for Viiv

If Intel channel partners want a piece of the emerging digital home market, they will need to invest both time and money into the Viiv technology PC platform, executives told industry press during a media event here last month.The hardest part is getting the channel to move beyond their comfort zone,” said Frank Raimondi, Intel’s strategic channel alliances manager.
The chipmaker plans to provide its resellers and system builders with the necessary training, marketing tools and support required for the Viiv platform, products and solutions, but, Raimondi said, partners have to make an effort to adapt to the digital home convergence.
“If we get system builders to invest, we think there is a strong enough market for them to survive, but they’ll have to change a little bit and we’re helping them change to some degree,” he said.
To help drive the change, Intel will launch a digital home integration-training program for its channel partners by the end of first quarter this year.
The company has been working with the Computer Technology Industry Associa-tion (CompTIA) to develop the right level of education and certification. The fee structure for the program, including the qualifying exam has not yet been released.
“This is an exciting way for our dealers to get the word out and show their local markets that they’ve done their homework,” said Raimondi, “it’s something they need to invest in to get a higher level of return.”
Marketing initiatives include Intel Inside, a co-op branding program that promotes reseller technology together with the Intel brand.
Upcoming changes to the program will enable the channel to get more involved and utilize those funds to build their markets, said Raimondi.
The channel can add value and differentiation to the Viiv PC platform in a number of ways, according to Bill Davidson, digital home marketing manager.
“Display calibration, for instance, is a great service that the channel can make money on,” he said. “Customized remotes, DVD filtering, media services and telephony software are all ways in which resellers can deliver the customer’s own vision for a digital home.”

Digital power
Key components of the Viiv technology include a broad choice of on-demand, Internet-delivered digital entertainment along with several options on how customers view, manage and share content.
Although a lot of the capabilities in Viiv are already available in the Microsoft Windows Media Centre, “Viiv provides significant performance improvement,” said Bill Leszinske, director of digital home marketing.
With features like 5.1 audio, Matrix storage, PRO Client LAN and built-in Ethernet, Leszinske said Viiv will provide a great experience with an easy to use remote.
To make the transition into this market more viable for partners, Intel is working on matchmaking resellers with system enablers such as audio-visual, telecommunications and consumer electronic providers.
No formal program is currently in place, said Raimondi, adding that the pairing initiative is happening on an ad-hoc basis, such as at road shows and through reseller request.
Intel is already working with several vendors, such as Adobe, Napster, TiVo and Movielink to develop compatible Viiv-verified applications and services.

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