LAS VEGAS: For those of you who haven’t been to CES, you’re missing
 out on an intensely contemplative experience. Sure, there are 140,000
 harried tech geeks bumping into each other in the hallways, steamrolling each other with lethal wheelie laptop bags and hand trucks full of 
video equipment, running through each other as if each body was but an
 apparition fading in and out of reality (“I see tech people!”). But
 there’s still plenty of time for contemplation about the future of the
 cable industry.

In fact, there’s a lot of time for contemplation, 
thanks to the endless hours spent in lines staring into space like a 
medicated tree sloth. Wanna eat? Stand in line. Wanna cab? Stand in 
line. Wanna paramedic? Stand the hell in line and stop complaining
 about those chest pains! OK. Maybe it’s not quite that bad. But all of this
 contemplative time has helped me reach a few cable-centric conclusions
 on this first day of the big show:



Bill Gates will never stop. Yes, he’s leaving Microsoft’s
 operational sphere this summer to spend more time saving the world with 
his wife Melinda. But don’t be lulled into a false sense of security.
 His keynote on Sunday was scary. Scary, I tell ya. The basic takeaway is
 that he plans to surgically implant XBox 360 components into every man, 
woman and child across the globe to create an army of hyper-networked
 cyborgs. Oh yes. We will all bow down to the XBox. Even Disney has
 acquiesced to Bill’s will by agreeing to provide VOD content. OK, I
 kid. But one thing is certain: Gaming consoles like the XBox 360—as
 well as the PlayStation 3—are fast becoming direct cable competitors.
 Period. Deal with it.



Charlie Ergen is crazy like a Colorado fox. During a CES 
press conference, it was hard to deny that Ergen and his exec pals are
 big thinkers. Seriously. In fact, cable should continue to keep a close
 eye on him. Sure, he can’t really do the triple play as well as cable.
 The problem for cable is that Ergen knows that and is now intent on
 killing cable with more HD channels—even potentially at the expense of 
his other non-HD fare. Furthermore, the split of Dish Network from
 EchoStar—which now includes the ultra-cool Sling Media—is looking more
 and more like pure genius. Now he can sell hardware to anyone who wants 
it, whether cable, telco or otherwise. Guess $10 billion isn’t enough.
 Charlie could be worth $20 billion in five years. Unless cable steps
 up.



Kevin Martin is watching you. I was innocently walking down a
 crowded hallway when I saw the FCC chairman and his entourage lurking
 around the corner. He’s an excellent lurker. Better than any of the
 classic villains of comic-book lore because he looks relatively
 harmless, bespectacled in his nerdiness and blending well into the 
landscape of geekdom that permeates every molecule of the Las Vegas Convention
 Center during CES. But, alas, he remains the Cable Terminator. Don’t
 forget it.



People are still confused. As far as the panels are going so far, 
it’s hard to know whether to listen or simply yawn. For years, people
 have talked about convergence and insisted that it’s already here.
 Well, they’re right once again. It is here. Sort of. But not really.
 But wait, my computer still can’t seem to find my wireless peripheral.
 What? I need a firmware update? Where do I get it? Oh, damn… Now I have 
to change my firewall settings? OK, did that. Oh no! Now I can’t get on the Internet. Damn you, convergence! Damn you all to hell!!!!… Oh, OK.
 Convergence has come a long way. And the home networking stuff tends to
 work most of the time. But it’s still not the seamless, happy-go-lucky,
 no-error-message world that we’re promised year after year after year.
 Maybe Comcast or some other cable operator will figure all of this
 stuff out and make it easy. Maybe Charlie Ergen will. Or Bill Gates. Or Apple. Or Google. CES Journal: Day Two Interface Gazing

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The FCC adopted a NPRM seeking comment on how to maximize efficient use of the 500MHz of mid-band spectrum available in the 12.2-12.7GHz band. The hope of the proceeding is to further a conversation as to

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