CES 2006: Day Three
- By John K. Waters
Finally, the last day—for me at least. This monster of a trade show will
lumber along, inhaling the IT zeitgeist and spewing gouts of radioactive flame
for another day. (Godzilla reference too much?)
Okay, enough with the complaints. The show definitely had its moments, a few
of which I share with you now as the Tropicana's nice housekeeping crew stares
daggers at me for something I seem to have done to the bathroom:
Most important news: It's a gizmo show, but I'd have to say that Intel's Viiv announcement is
the one most likely to make enterprise IT sit up and pay attention. With Viiv
(pronounced 'VIVE'), the chip maker seems to be getting into the content game.
Like its predecessor, Centrino, Viiv is a combination of hardware and software,
including Intel's latest Core Duo (Napa) and Pentium D 900 series chips. Viiv,
which Intel CEO Paul Otellini called a platform during his keynote, is designed
to bring a wide range of content, from sports to first-run flicks, to anyone
with a broadband connection. (I swear, that word is beginning to sound like
nails on a blackboard to me. See my platform
rant: "Word of the Year".)
This is the technology that will provide the processing speed, power, and
standards to bring high-def, media center-style computing to consumers. As Intel
envisions it, a Viiv-equipped PC will serve as the nerve center of a home
entertainment network, linking Viiv-compatible TVs, games and music devices, and
delivering everything from classic TV shows, to Olympic highlights, to Bollywood
movies—even first-run Hollywood films while they are still showing at the
Cineplex. This might actually be considered disruptive technology,
depending on its role in the current shift in the way we consume media.
Biggest Non-Event: The Bill Gates pre-show keynote. Microsoft's Chairman and Chief Software
Architect unveiled MTV Networks' new music service (Urge), demoed Vista's photo
editing and image search features, and flogged Microsoft Live (online content),
the latest version of the Media Center, and the Xbox 360. For this we needed a
My Favorite Keynote Moment: Robin Williams turns to Google's Larry Page when
neither jumped in with an answer to an attendee's question and said, ''Go get
'em, Mensa boy, it's your turn.''
My Favorite Gizmo: The Pepper Pad. It's a
handheld computer designed to access the internet via Wi-Fi, but it can also be
used as a remote control for a PC, TV, stereo, or other electronic devices. Man,
I'm just getting lazier and lazier.
Coolest non-tech display: Jimi Hendrix's
Psychedelic Flying V, on display in the Gibson Guitar tent. The company was promoting
a new digital guitar that plugs into a processor with an Ethernet cable and a
new digital jukebox that pulls music from the Internet. ''Gibson is not just a
guitar company,'' the spokesperson told me. ''It's a technology company.''
Final celeb tally:
Lots of Hollywood celebrities and MTV pop stars were sighted at this year's
show, both on the keynote stage and off. Here's my final list: Tom Cruise, Ellen
DeGeneres, Morgan Freeman, Tom Hanks, Danny DeVito, Robin Williams, Justin
Timberlake, director Ron Howard, record producer Quincy Jones, The Da Vinci
author Dan Brown, Snoop Dogg, and Donny
Osmond. I should have brought my autograph book.
My favorite conference rumor: I have it on good authority
that Britney Spears showed up at the CNET
soiree. Congrats, guys. When the pop divas start crashing your parties, it's
fair to say you've arrived.
Whatever happened to...? I bumped into the long lost Tom
Harvey at the badge pickup booth. Tom is a PR and marketing maven, formerly with
Nadel Phelan, who dropped of my radar a couple of years ago. Turns out that he
and his better half quietly moved to Susanville, CA, to pursue other
opportunities. But Tom is back in the PR game with his own outfit,
theCOMMUNICATIONS, looking lean and cool as ever, soul patch intact. I mention
Tom because he was something of a rarity in my experience: a PR rep who never
wasted my time. He's a pro, and I'm glad to pass on his new email address: [email protected].
And finally: I just have to
mention Dennis Jacobsen, CEO of Integrated Business
, a Penticton, BC-based company specializing in point-of-sale, inventory
control, accounting, and customer management software solutions. He and I struck up
a conversation as we waited in the interminable hotel check-in line the
night before the show. Dennis, like me, is what we call back in the Midwest a
gives you a real advantage when a cyclone touches down in the middle of your
trailer park, but is a somewhat less desirable trait when you have to be on your
feet all day. I was bragging on my conference kicks, the aforementioned
Timberland loafers (featuring the Smart Comfortwear System), when Dennis
revealed that his shoes were... new
. ''I just
bought them,'' he told me. ''I don't know what I was thinking.''
Now there's a guy with something to complain about.
I'm outa here!
John K. Waters is a freelance writer based in Silicon Valley. He can be reached
at [email protected].