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Internet Companies Storm Consumer Electronics Show

Posted by inet - 2006-01-05

Internet giants Yahoo, Google, and Microsoft are set to dominate the 2006 Consumer Electronics Show (CES), which takes place in Las Vegas every year at the beginning of January.
Terry Semel, chairman and CEO of Yahoo, and Larry Page, cofounder and president of Google, are delivering keynote speeches along with Microsoft chairman Bill Gates and Sir Howard Stringer, chairman and CEO of Sony.

"This is the first time that Yahoo is taking a booth at CES," said Nicole Leverich, a Yahoo spokesperson. The company's booth will demonstrate the use of Yahoo services in different parts of a house. Featured areas include a spa, a garage, and a living room.

"We will be demonstrating how consumers can use Yahoo throughout their lives," said Leverich. Visitors will be able to download Yahoo photos, messages, and music onto their mobile phones. They also will see how they can access Yahoo through their TiVo boxes and make Voice over IP calls via their computers using Yahoo Instant Messenger.

Yahoo plans to unveil other new services at the show, but will not be revealing details ahead of Terry Semel's speech, Leverich said.

Connected Devices

"The most important theme of CES is that consumer devices are being connected up, either to the Internet or to each other," said Tim Bajarin, principal analyst at consulting firm Creative Strategies.

"Google and Yahoo represent the next generation of content distribution," he offered. "The major content-distribution companies -- CBS, ABC, CNN, and NBC -- have been asleep at the switch. They did not understand that their advertising-driven revenue model was threatened by the Internet and they missed the boat."

Bajarin said that, in the future, all content will be delivered via the Internet by companies such as Yahoo and Google, which communicate interactively with the consumer. "This is something that the old media companies can't do," he said.

Broadband Content

"Manufacturers are concentrating on devices that deliver broadband content both to the home and for portable use," said Adi Kishore, Yankee Group's director of media research.

The Apple iPod and Sling Media's Slingbox are among the important new devices picked out by Kishore. The Slingbox allows TV content to be forwarded to PCs and mobile devices.

"This is the first time that media companies and media executives are part of the show," said Ted Schadler, a consumer-electronics analyst at Forrest Research.

"In the past, the show was just about devices; now it is also about media," he said. "Yahoo is the most important company in this category."

Schadler picked out video-distributor Starz Entertainment Group and satellite-radio-company Sirius as other examples of up-and-coming media companies. "Starz is putting its entire video library on the Internet for distribution via PCs and Microsoft players," he said. "Sirius is introducing new products for voice-activated command and for downloading content to a hard disk and for later use."

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