Broadcom’s Strategy, and a Big Box Retailer Conquers the World!

23 February 2010

At Mobile World Congress, Broadcom showed off their chipsets with a new tablet ecosystem they’re calling PERSONA. At the core of this strategy is ICE – Information, Communication and Entertainment. The key concept is that all of these assets are shared across all devices in the consumer’s home. Thus the tablet is able to talk to the TV, PC, phones, home security system, etc in order to control, monitor, route or view. Netbook News captured a great video that explains Broadcom’s strategy in more detail.

In this previous post, I described my vision for a consumer tablet and Broadcom is clearly thinking along the same lines. The only issue for Broadcom is that they are only a chip provider and thus create reference designs and not commercially available products – In order for this to take off, they are going to need a major OEM to buy into this vision and integrated it across the line. This is a task for Samsung or Sony since they have a wide range of products in which they can embed this technology. Outside of a traditional OEM with the marketing clout and install base to make this a reality, the ability to deliver pervasive technology is difficult. There is one new dark horse who could get in the role of dictating new technology standards across separate hardware platforms – Wal-Mart. That’s right, Wal-Mart.

Wal-Mart recently purchased VUDU. I was an early adopter of the VUDU platform and highly enthusiastic over their original premise of utilizing peer-to-peer technology for delivering high quality movies directly to the home. In my last startup, I advocated and planned for a future mobile media product that would utilize similar technology. While VUDU was not able to create a profitable venture with this product, they were able to create a streaming video service to deliver the same movie catalog directly to internet-enabled TVs. This capability was the primary purchase intent for Wal-Mart. Imagine that Wal-Mart could now require all of the TV sets sold at Wal-Mart to be compatible with the VUDU streaming service – e.g. all of their vendors would have to build or license the VUDU technology. If Wal-Mart takes this step, it becomes an easy leap to imagine a case where they leverage this relationship to require other technology that allows for a particular style of interoperability between consumer devices they sell. Should Broadcom and others be courting Wal-Mart to provide a new integrated experience for their customers? And if someone did, would Wal-Mart be receptive?

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