Company execs at last week’s 2009 International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas were anxious to make it clear they know that 21st century digital consumers want content anywhere on any device.
For starters, just prior to the opening of CES, Cisco’s big guns unveiled the company’s consumer strategy, with Chairman and CEO John Chambers describing what he sees as a "network centric market with any device to any content."
"Many people think about Cisco just starting to enter the consumer market," Chambers said. "We’ve been there for a long time. We’ve just been quiet about what we’re doing. We’re not going to be quiet any more."
"This is not one of many things we do. This is one major emphasis we have our company behind," he added.
Chambers promised a "steady stream" of acquisition, partnership, and product announcements to follow the ones released at CES. These included the Linksys by Cisco Wireless Home Audio Solution and the Linksys by Cisco Media Hub.
Moto walks the walk
At the Motorola booth, visitors got a glimpse of the cross-device solutions coming down the pike. The update to the Communications Convergence Engine Storefront 1.0 is intended to allow IPTV providers to "create compelling subscriber experiences across the TV, mobile (phone) and the Web," said Rob Malnati, senior manager in broadband home gateways and software at Motorola. Specifically, subs can personalize the consumer experience with promotions and discounts based on preference.
"There is nothing worse than when you go into an environment such as the Internet and you are pelted with ads for mortgage refinancing … but that might not be your hot topic," Malnati said. The update will be available in March.
Motorola also demonstrated a whole-home DVR that would allow users to record a movie at home and watch elsewhere the next day. "It would transcode that asset into a different format for a different device to take with you," Malnati said.
The network side
Unlike Cisco, Alcatel-Lucent said it doesn’t have plans to enter the world of consumer devices, said Steve West, director, North American strategy, Alcatel-Lucent. His company will continue working on networking and enabling technologies that will allow service providers to deliver communications and content anywhere via any device.
"It is extremely important that the world of content technology and the carrier environment come together in new ways, really, to enable these applications for end consumers," West said. In addition to its traditional products, Alcatel-Lucent has a strategy that is "all about enabling our carrier customers to take advantage of the new web paradigm."
DTV transition woes
Lately there’s been talk of delaying the broadcast DTV transition scheduled for Feb. 17. Worries about DTA box and coupon availability, as well as lingering reception questions, are the usual reasons cited. During a face-to-face with CEA President and CEO Gary Shapiro, outgoing FCC Chairman Kevin Martin said, "If the coupon problem can be fixed without changing the date, we should do that." Martin expressed concern that confusion could ensue if the date is changed – ironically, due to the success of the consumer awareness program surrounding the Feb. 17 transition.
– Monta Monaco Hernon
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