The future of TV, according to Marvell co-founder Weili Dai, is a little bit like pizza. Different people like different toppings, and different companies may have different recipes for their tomato sauce. But no matter what, it always needs a good dough. “We make the pizza dough,” Dai told be during a phone conversation Monday.
Marvell has been in the news in recent months because of its Armada 1500 chipset, which powers a new generation of Google TV devices, including the new set-top-boxes launched by Sony and Vizio at Google I/O last week. Dai told me that she sees Google TV emerge as “one of the key platforms” in the smart TV space. “It’s the infant stage of Google addressing the big screen,” she admitted. But that’s exactly where Android was just a few years back. Just like Android on mobile phones, Google TV will pick up steam, Dai explained: “A snowball effect will happen.”
One of the issues that held back the first generation of Google TV devices was their high retail price, with Logitech’s Revue initially selling for $250. Vizio’s Co-Star, on the other hand, is going to be sold for $99. The price reduction is possible because ARM chips like the Armada 1500 are much cheaper than the Intel chipset that was used for the first generation of Google TVs.
However, Dai doesn’t think that there will be just one platform ruling them all. “You will see multiple ecosystems,” she told me. To take the pizza metaphor further, there’s room for both Roundtable and Pizza Hut – and possibly even for new innovators that think outside of the box. “I hold chocolate sauce too if they not decide to use tomato sauce,” she joked.
So what is Dai’s vision for the future of television? At the center of the experience will be a TV wall in the living room, powered by an entertainment center that is interconnected to everything else, including smaller displays in the kitchen and bedroom. But don’t just think screens: “The furniture around you all will have smartness in it,” she said, adding: “We are gonna experience a very different lifestyle.”
Granted, it might be some time before consumers will live in this kind of smart home. But the key may be to start with making TVs smarter, and Dai expressed confidence that the technology to get this done is ready. Now it’s up to the OEMs to market those devices to consumers and to content folks to come on board and embrace these new platforms. In other words: Make those tasty pizza pies irresistible, and get them in the hands of the hungry masses. Said Dai: “The dough is ready.”