By Noel Randewich
SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Intel Corp's media group has been on a hiring spree as it prepares to launch an Internet television service later this year, underscoring the chip maker's seriousness about the new business.
Intel Media is now looking to add 60 people to its staff of over 300, said spokesman Jon Carvill. He said the group could number 400 within the next six months or so, compared to less than 100 a year ago.
In a major divergence from its core business of manufacturing chips for PCs, Intel plans to sell consumers a television set-top box that offers live programming as well as on-demand content in small bundles.
It will compete with heavyweights like Apple Inc, Amazon Inc and Google Inc that believe the $100 billion cable television ecosystem is ripe for change. The service, announced in February, would go further than products currently offered by Apple, Netflix and others.
But some media executives and analysts have been skeptical that Intel will be able to convince content providers to agree to terms that are attractive enough to make the service viable.
Carvill declined to comment on the progress of content negotiations other than to say Intel is engaged with partners and remains confident it will launch later this year.
Intel Media, led by former BBC executive Erik Huggers, is looking for engineers experienced in cloud computing, user interface design and security.
Intel also wants specialists in Hadoop, a platform used for mining vast troves of digital data. That could point toward a heavy emphasis on analyzing customers' viewing habits.
Huggers has said the product's set-top box will include a camera that could be used to automatically steer content and ads toward specific users.
One job ad on Intel's website is for an "audience representative" who would be responsible for communicating with customers via phone, chat, email, and possibly video. Among the qualifications, "Must be weird."
(Editing by Edwina Gibbs)