What We Didn’t See At CES

Not only did we witness a temporary cease fire in the “World’s Largest” flat panel CES showdown (pic above from 2007), a few other technologies played it low-key in Vegas…

After a buzz-worthy showing in 2008, I didn’t see or hear much regarding tru2way-enabled hardware in 2009. At least on the retail front. While the CableLabs initiative, which creates a platform for two-way cable-co access/communication, and industry memorandum of understanding (MOU) sound promising on paper, implementation has been slow going. As far as we know, tru2way is only available to retail devices within Comcast’s Denver and Chicago markets. Which is a pretty small segment of the population for manufacturers to invest in. Making matters worse, both the NCTA and Digeo’s CEO have confirmed to me that retail, third-party tru2way DVR specs have not even been finalized or porvided. TiVo couldn’t even build a tru2way Series4 DVR today if they wanted to. Intentional or not, the cable industry continues to retain a pretty firm grip on the hardware riding their networks. Which may end up biting them as folks leapfrog to Internet video. Perhaps things will look somewhat brighter this summer when broad tru2way support is expected from the MSOs. If they hit their target.

Mobile television services also seemed to have lost some steam this year. Some of the announcements, and acquired spectrum, we heard about in 2008 have either fizzled or kept a fairly low profile. Two car-based exceptions were the AT&T Cruisecast satellite TV service I was briefed on at ShowStoppers (Orbitcast coverage) and Audiovox’s MediaFLO offering available in select metros (Orbitcast coverage).

For the most part, it also seems as if the connected GPS category went into hibernation. No Nuvifone, no Magellan, no Dash. However, the TomTom Go 740 Live did make it’s US debut and Internet radio may be coming to our cars. But, going forward, I wonder the bulk of these connected services will be accessed directly via our smartphones. And perhaps this tech still ahead of its time and the mainstream isn’t ready.

7 thoughts on “What We Didn’t See At CES”

  1. “…TiVo can’t even build a tru2way Series4 DVR today if they wanted to. Intentional or not, the cable industry continues to retain a pretty firm grip on the hardware riding their networks….”

    Sounds like collusion between various government agencies and big media, proprietary hardware makers, vendor lockers and patent trolls are all cooperating nicely to make us Consumers suffer as always.

    Maybe this post’s title is a little misleading – You didn’t see any innovation means all those evil people have been hard at work for the past year making sure Consumers get less and less choice and value for higher prices! MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!

  2. Wow, you certainly ran with that. I think my contribution was simply a “hey, Dave how about…”

    Personally I’m not that concerned about the whole tru2way thing, having just completely given up on cable VOD already because of (a) the availability of internet based VOD (Apple TV and Amazon on Tivo), and (b) HD. As far as the latter the cablecos just don’t have enough content in highdef, and I’m gonna jump into the BluRay pool any minute now.

    On the connected GPS front, I’m kinda hoping one of those “crowd sourced” solutions will win out. Just get the right application onto iPhones (and maybe G1s) and we’ll have live traffic data that can be used to build exactly the same database you’d have had with the now-defunct Dash. The GPS solutions just need to go get it in real time, which could still be via a low-bandwidth distribution scheme like radio or whatever. Still hopeful here.

  3. FWIW, the world’s largest display battle has been paused because current LCD and plasma plants can’t produce mother-glass any larger.

    Also, there are transportation headaches. I think, Panasonic’s monster (150 inches) requires 747 which can only fit two units at a time.

  4. While I found myself fascinated by the massive televisions (I did not go to CES last year), I couldn’t help but wonder if it was all just a bit silly… but I think half of the show is about being over the top.
    As for Audiovox’s Mobile TV solution, I’m intrigued and like that it can be easily (supposedly) retrofitted to any vehicle with TV screens previously mounted.
    I also found myself intrigued by the possibility of internet radio in the car, but it almost seems like there are just too many steps. I’m confident that someone will step forward with an easier solution in the near future.

  5. The Audiovox MediaFLO solution is much more elegant than AT&T’s satellite roof mount thingy. The MediaFLO device is a small box and antenna that can be placed under the hood, in the chasis, etc. Unfortunately, MediaFLO isn’t nationwide. And both of these services have limited programming offerings and success is not guaranteed, regardless of the initial outlay to get them installed.

    Regarding Internet radio in the car, I’m counting on Real (you) to solve this for me with an iPhone Rhapsody client. Assuming Apple will let you save tunes on the device. Something I’m not so sure about…

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