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Intel Takes To Web To Promote PIII

Intel Corp. launched its Pentium III processor last month with the promise that it offers a better Internet experience. To back up that claim, the company is paying several prominent Web sites to develop content optimized for the Pentium III's new instruction set.

SportsLine USA, publisher of CBS SportsLine, said it will create a new multimedia-intensive site called Sportspoint, built specifically for Pentium III processor owners.

"With the power of the Pentium III, we're able to build richer content. It's another point on the curve of increasing technology and how we use it," said Don Smith, VP of multimedia technology for Sportsline USA.

According to Smith, Sportspoint makes heavy use of Macromedia's Flash technology. (A beta version of the site is available here.) Sportsline USA will also develop a co-branded store called the Intel Sports Store. It will enable shoppers to rotate store items in 3D or zoom in to see details up close.

And Excite Inc. will soon launch an interactive three-dimensional search and navigation site called Excite Extreme. Specific details were not available, but Excite said it will offer Pentium III users a "break-through rich media implementation of the excite.com experience."

Initially, both Excite and SportsLine's sites will be accessible only through Intel's WebOutfitter Service, which will go live on the Web March 26. Intel said the WebOutfitter site will be a portal to Pentium-III content, tools, and tips. CNN and Ziff-Davis will also include Pentium III-optimized content. But it will be up to the individual sites as to whether they restrict the content only to PIII users.

According to Intel spokesman Adam Grossberg, users of slower or non-Intel processors will not be able to access the WebOutfitter site. Grossberg said the site will interrogate the CPU ID of the visitor's PC and admit only those with Pentium III systems.

Smith of Sportsline USA said the company is still weighing whether to open SportsPoint to users of non-Pentium III processors from its main SportsLine site.

"I think it's natural that this kind of content will end up on our site. And when we do that we will make it available to everyone. We'll see how everyone reacts and whether this kind of content scales well up the performance chain or not."

The new Intel campaign is reminiscent of the "Optimized Content" program Intel used last year at the launch of its Pentium II processor. Under that initiative, Intel gave PC makers extra reimbursements if they advertised at Web sites that had been certified by Intel as processor-intensive.

The Optimized Content campaign drew criticism from some online editors who felt they were being coerced to develop certain content or risk losing ad dollars.