Content Delivery, Digital Media Take The Stage At CES

Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates and Intel CEO Craig Barrett, in keynotes at the 2005 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, said PC-based technologies are now extending traditional uses of digital media.

Microsoft said it had reached agreements with FoxSports and MTV Networks, among others, on delivery of IP-optimized content to the market. Intel, meanwhile, showed off endorsements from celebrities supporting its blueprint for convergence.

"We're going to upgrade some of the equipment in your life," Barrett told the CES crowd. At stake is the future of what is now a $112 billion U.S. consumer-electronics market and the companies and technologies that drive its growth and ubiquity.

CES, which drew as many as 120,000 attendees and more than 2,000 vendors last week, has surpassed the Comdex show as one of the key industry gatherings of the year. Along with Gates' and Barrett's remarks, companies ranging from Panasonic to Samsung to Hewlett-Packard and Sony unveiled a series of new consumer electronics and PC-based products. Panasonic and HP, for example, used CES to announce a deal to use each other's DVD technology in consumer devices and PCs.

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Barrett showed attendees prototypes of digital media management software and handheld, PC-based digital media players that could provide new and extended uses for both content providers and consumers.

Underscoring his point, Barrett received on-stage endorsements from Aerosmith lead singer Steven Tyler and actor/filmmaker Robert Redford, whose Sundance Film Festival this month will feature a film delivered to viewers via WiMax wireless technology.

Michael Poncher, executive vice president of V3 Media, a Las Vegas-based system builder and solution provider, said that while the technology has become viewed as "rock solid" in the digital content space, the other side of the pipeline has slowed the pace of the industry's growth.

"Where the slow adoption lies has been with those who produce the content, namely the movie studios," said Poncher, whose company has developed a burn-to-disk kiosk solution for retailers to deliver digital media.

Among those quick to adopt the PC-based approach have been system builders including Alienware, AOpen and others, which demonstrated their own multimedia technology and entertainment PCs at the show.