Intel wants to enter the cable TV business – but here’s the catch.

First Google, now Intel. The microprocessor giant is switching gears to cable TV and set top boxes, making them the latest tech company to focus on the cable industry rather than what made them famous. Interesting dichotomy, no?

Intel is entering the cable market. Yikes.

Intel’s program is all virtual, however – that is, they aren’t building “Fiberhoods” or anything like that, meaning Intel might actually be making moves for the future of cable.

One insider put it this way, saying they were irritated with “everyone doing a half-assed Google TV so it’s going to do it themselves and do it right.” Strong words, but maybe Intel actually has the know how to get it right.

Their city by city approach is one part to avoid licensing hurdles and another part aiming at the set top box market, which is quickly becoming saturated with everything you can think of. There’s Boxee, Roku, Aereo and the current Apple TV just to name a few, but they all offer about the same options. Intel is going one step forward and offering live content like sports and news.

But they’ll also be combining Redbox, Netflix and tons of other streaming services as well. It’s the perfect combination of old and new models of media distribution.

It’s not like Intel is cutting out the traditional cable providers. No, no, no. for example, it licensed Comcast’s Reference Design Kit in October, a kit that will help aid the company in the development of its cable TV services.

So how soon can you expect to get your hot little hands on one of Intel’s set top boxes? Well, the device will premiere at CES 2013 (January 8 to 11, 2013) and from there, it’s all just a matter of selling the devices in store. It could be as early as next fall, but it all depends on how quickly these things can roll out. You know how it is, especially if you’re still waiting for Apple TV (the real one) or Google TV 3.0.

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