Clearly, this week, Las Vegas is the world capital of overstimulation (and mile-long lines to buy a hot dog or board a shuttle bus). Today was the official opening of the Consumer Electronics Show, and here are some quick impressions so far.
- While everyone spent 2005 focusing on the iPod as the must-have portable media device, Sony was selling PlayStation Portables like crazy: 200,000 a week during the Christmas selling season, the company said.
- Live TV will be appearing, imminently, on your cell phone. Providers like MobiTV (more than 500,000 subscribers), Sling Media, Sony, and Qualcomm's MediaFLO division plan to make it so.
- TiVo has some cool stuff that it'll start beta-testing later this month, like the ability to move recorded TV shows onto an iPod or the aforementioned PlayStation Portable. (What the call Tivo To Go.) But the company seems unfocused, trying to pile features onto its box in the hopes of recapturing some momentum. (Isn't piling on pointless features the exclusive province of Microsoft?) Not sure exactly why you'd want to listen to Internet radio on your TiVo.
- Usually when PR people button-hole me and ask me to look at something, it's a dud. But I was impressed by the concept of the ChatterBug. It's a tiny device that looks like the filter you install on your phone lines when you use DSL. Basically, plug a phone into the ChatterBug, and it instantly becomes a VOIP phone, saving you scads on long distance. You pay them $9.95 a month, and make all the U.S. calls you want. (You can keep your own phone number, too.)
- LG and iRiver are both showing tiny video/audio players that are about the size of a box of Tic-Tacs. iRiver's U10 Music and Media Player costs just $200. No price yet for LG's FM30 Portable Media Player. One question: haven't these guys heard of creative naming? Maybe that's one reason the iPod looms so large in the public consciousness.
- I skipped the Bill Gates keynote last night, even though I should've gone. (His droning voice just drives me batty, so I chose to go to a press party with hors d'oeuvres.) But I did catch Sony CEO Howard Stringer's presentation this morning (with cameo appearances by Tom Hanks, Ron Howard, and `Da Vinci Code' author Dan Brown.) Stringer said that we're leaving a world where entertainment content is pushed out to consumers - and entering one where consumers pull content toward them, when they want it, in the format they want it. Stringer also presented the Sony Reader - yet another attempt to make eBooks take off.
- I'm struck by how many new services are being launched that require you to buy yet another monthly subscription fee: XM and Sirius satellite radio are here... some of the cell phone TV guys charge $10 a month... TiVo... movie download services. When will there be subscription backlash among consumers?
I'll try to post again - let me know if there's anything (or anyone) you want me to look for...