Monday, January 12, 2009

Cisco Systems, Dell and Microsoft strike out at the Consumer Electronics Show


Big companies pitching products at the Consumer Electronics Show this year didn’t hit any home runs. Some got solid base hits, while a few struck out.

The good

Sony did a fine job conveying its vision for HDTV and introducing products capitalizing on major cultural trends.
Sony is the furthest along in developing organic light-emitting diode (OLED) televisions. OLED TV is seen as a possible successor to LCD TV, the dominant type of flat-panel high-definition TV sold today. Sony has one small OLED TV on the market now and a pipeline of larger screen sizes in the works.
Sony also introduced cameras and camcorders targeted to users of photo and video sharing sites, like Yahoo’s Flickr and Google’s YouTube. Its new products included the Wi-Fi Cybershot digital camera and pocket-sized Webbie HD camcorder.

Panasonic’s message was clear: It wants to rally industry support for its 3-D television format. Panasonic is the only company proposing a full HD 1080p standard. Rival formats compromise on resolution or color, Panasonic says.
Based on demonstrations of its technology at CES, Panasonic deserves to be the frontrunner.

The bad

Cisco Systems seemed to be at the wrong show.
Most of its CES press conference was a sales pitch to media and entertainment company executives about how to profit on the Web with their content.
Cisco rolled out its Eos software platform, which allows media and entertainment companies to create, manage and grow online communities around their content. Eos lets content owners deliver immersive consumer experiences, while increasing revenue opportunities and reducing operational costs. Warner Music Group has signed on to deploy Eos-powered Web sites for some of its artists.
Journalists grumbled about the presentation and the small room used for the press conference.

Dell was a big tease.
At a press event at the Palms hotel, the No. 2 PC maker in the world unveiled its Adamo luxury computer brand. And that’s about it.
At the end of the media briefing, executives cued runway model Hollis Wakeema, who was sitting to the side of the stage. She pranced on stage and pulled a sleek-looking laptop out of a carrying case. With music playing, she posed “Project Runway”-style with the super thin notebook PC for photographers. Then a minute later, she and the laptop were gone.
Dell wouldn’t give any information about the product, including hardware specs and pricing.
Executives would only say that it is a high-performance notebook with precision craftsmanship and amazing industrial design. It’s expected to launch in the first half of the year.
So basically all Dell announced was a brand name.

Another year, another dull Microsoft keynote about Windows.
Only this time, tech icon and Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates wasn’t giving the opening night speech at CES. This year, that task went to Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer.
Ballmer didn’t draw the same size crowd as Gates used to and he seemed to be going through the motions. He lacked that Ballmer passion and wit (especially when it comes to needling rivals) that many of us are used to.
He spoke about Windows 7 (the follow-on to the oft-maligned Windows Vista), as well as Windows Live and Windows Mobile.
The only news was the beta release of Windows 7, which was expected, and several corporate partnerships. The rest was Microsoft rhetoric about connecting the three main devices people use daily – PC, TV and mobile phone.
If you’re not going to dazzle an audience like CES with new products, at least entertain them. The Microsoft keynote this year featured no funny videos or celebrity appearances, which have been a staple in previous years.

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