Upcoming face-offs? Intel vs. cable, PayPal vs. Square

• Can an Intel service to deliver TV shows and movies online become a viable competitor to cable and satellite providers? The Wall Street Journal reports that the world’s largest chip maker could roll out such a service, possibly accompanied by its own set-top boxes, this year. It wouldn’t be the first time Intel has ventured into the world of entertainment. Remember the short-lived Viiv living-room devices, circa 2006? (See That’s pronounced Viiv, as in “need to survive.”) But it’s been six years, an eternity in the world of ever-changing technology and opportunity. It’s the golden age of online video. And Intel, a behemoth that has gotten the call to evolve in the world of mobile and iPads, is as big and deep-pocketed a company as any to take on what the WSJ points out is a daunting challenge: Competing with the entrenched cable and satellite companies is bound to involve not only strong resistance but the high costs of securing content and the issue of limited bandwidth. It’s not quite an apples-to-apple comparison, but for example, Netflix — once mentioned as a threat to cable — is said to be positioning itself to be part of the familiar cable bundle. (See Will Netflix find bundling a joy? Comcast not buying it, but Apple TV a first step.)

Intel shares are up nearly 1.5 percent to $27.35 as of this post, amid a broader market rise.

• PayPal is also reportedly working on something to challenge a rival. In this case, the rival is Square, the San Francisco mobile-payment company founded by Jack Dorsey of Twitter fame. GigaOm reports that the eBay payments company will announce Thursday a triangular-shaped device that would allow small businesses to process credit-card payments from smartphones. PayPal’s move would be yet another foray into the offline world; it recently began processing mobile payments at Home Depot stores.

Shares of San Jose-based eBay are up more than 1.5 percent to about $36.80 as of this post.


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