I was wondering how the amazing Scoble was going to cover the CES hurricane of news and products and should have known it would be with a hurricane of Scoble video podcasts. I wish I had more time to hang at the Bloghaus but there is more going on here than you can possibly even figure out.
I give Scoble huge credit for having “walked the walk” about blogging for many years and helping others get involved and understand the power of the medium. He’s also been showing companies how powerful corporate style blogging can be and it’s nice to finally see (some) of them “get it” and use blogging to elevate the quality interaction and the amount of connection to their customers and potential customers.
Hey! I’m still looking for Donny Deutsch Donny where are you? Wait – he’s NOT on the road to CES after all. He’s in New York! talking about CES. Tech from New York? Where is that exactly – isn’t that where they make Saturday Night lives and Rudy Giulianis?
Shortly I’m off to the Wagoner – CEO of General Motors Keynote. He’ll be talking about vehicle innovations including work on “autonomous” cars that drive themselves. Hmm – hope they have perfected that if they bring one into the ballroom!
Here at CES it seems to me two very powerful themes are technology as a *social and lifestyle experience* and technology as a *mobile experience*. At the MMORPG gaming session it was noted that games in many ways were the first online social experience and continue to be a powerful and dominant social force in the online world. Dr. Lars Buttler of Trion (formerly with Electronic Arts) was very optimistic about the future of gaming, and along with others felt that current distinctions between console and PC would break down but the social nature of gaming would increase, including ways to move between multiple games. Buttler also suggested that the European market has been underestimated in gaming.
Other key items discussed were the secondary markets, where real money is exchanged for game items, and micropayments which many on the panel felt would become a much larger part of the gaming experience. MMORPGs like MapleStory rely on micropayments rather than subscription fees, and this appears to be a key strategic item for MMORPG makers.
Yesterday I spent time with some of the gaming innovators. The most impressive things I saw:
Motion-enhanced driving cars created by D-Box. These simulated the driving experience in an arcade fashion with a high powered HP gaming PC plus an elaborate car simulator and 1-3 monitors. Very cool, but at something like $14,000 depending on configurations it’ll be out of range for many. D-box won an innovation award for this.
A similar “virtual transport” product that also won the innovation award is the flight simulator, Dreamflyer, which at about $2800 seemed conspicuously cheaper than D-Box, which I think is partly due to D-Box’s real motion in the carriage vs Dreamflyers virtual motion on screen, though I’m not clear on the details of either product yet.
Alienware debuted a prototype gaming / immersion monitor that won’t be available until middle of the year, but it was a simply awesome looking monitor which stretched *around* the viewers head in an arc of (i’m guessing) about 60 degrees and about 60 inches wide by 16 inches tall. It’s like having 3 high resolution screens stiched together in an arc. Very impressive, and looked like a killer environment for hardcore gamers though the immersion glasses some are showing off here are more likely to get widespread use due to much lower cost. More on the glasses later as I think that is a really provocative technology that is finally going to see some widespread adoption.
When I initially picked up my “blogger” badge here at CES I wondered if bloggers were going to be a sort of a “downgraded”press person, but they’ve been treating bloggers very well and it’s appreciated (as well as great leveraging of social media for CES and the CES sponsors). There are spacious well equipped blogger lounges in both venues – one here at Las Vegas Convention Center LVCC, and one at the Venetian/Sands Venue. Today’s lunch was excellent, and coffee and snacks are here all day long. ( I’m posting this from the Press computer room right next door but there were computers in the lounge as well).
One of the things I left out of my earlier David Filo interview post were the details of Jerry Yang’s talk, which I’d have to say was lackluster given the amount of attention the markets are paying to Yahoo leadership right now, and given the slick pizzaz of yesterday’s Gates keynote. (C’mon Jerry – no Guitar Hero action?). Yahoo spent a lot of time talking about and “introducing” Yahoo Go” Version 3, a product I’m not familiar with but Yahoo treated as if it was a household word. It looked a lot like the MS mobile phone innovations and offered excellent info+browser+mapping+data integration for phones. Also announced was an expansion of mobile and widget platforms to make them more “open” and therefore more appealing to developers, though I’m not clear how significant this will be. Yahoo, like Microsoft yesterday, noted that they are looking at *billions* of mobile users and that although PCs are still important to them it’s clear that mobile is the bright and shining star where innovation will be happening.
Disclaimer: I’ve got some Yahoo Stock, but none of it was helped by this post.
After Yahoo CEO Jerry Yang gave his talk today I had a chance to interview co-founder David Filo, who had just come in for the end of the talk and was hanging around afterward. Like many Silicon Valley elites David was engaging and personal and answered several questions for me.
First was simply a confirmation that David’s plans are to ease out of some of his technology management roles at Yahoo while Jerry’s intention was to stay engaged into the foreseeable future as CEO. When Semel left Yahoo some industry watchers suggested Yang would not stay long, but those rumors appear to have been unfounded.
I asked David if he’d met with Bill Gates during CES. He said “I haven’t”, which leads me to my current working hypothesis which is a little wild, but that’s what blogging is for!
The hypothesis is that the Gates Keynote last night and the Yang talk this morning were not coincidental, but were the result of meetings – probably last night – between Gates, Yang, and perhaps former Yahoo CEO Terry Semel. I’ll certainly take David at his word that “he” did not meet with Gates. Semel was *in the audience* this morning but was not introduced.
I should note that when I pressed David to talk about a potential merger he suggested he feels Yahoo has a lot to do themselves before moving in that direction, but he also noted how the industry moves in fast and furious ways. He actually asked *me* what the advantage would be to that. I’ve written about that before here at the blog but in short it’s that Yahoo+MSN would be able to fight Google in ways neither appears to be able to do alone.
So I’m not predicting a merger/buyout but I sure wouldn’t rule it out, and I’m guessing there are informal talks going on – probably here at CES.
Disclaimer: I’ve got some Yahoo Stock. Not that it’s making me any money mind you, but I’ve got some.
Tonight at CES Bill Gates delivered his final CES (and perhaps final in the industry) keynote. The key announcements included a partnership with NBC to deliver video online for *every single sport* at the Olympics – some 3600 hours in total and I think he indicated close to real time. Also impressive was Microsoft’s work with partner “Tellme” and MS mapping to bring powerful voice and map navigation capabilities to the mobile space. They noted that mobile advertising will be some (11 billion?) by 2011, and that although they feel PCs will remain very important it’s clearly the mobile phone space where a lot of key innovation will be seen.
Back at MIX06 I noted that Microsoft had not yet embraced the social media revolution that clearly was going to dominate the online experience. I think they have now done so, but they may be too late. The demos of something called “Zune Social” were neat, but I noted the key feature was the ability to integrated with a Facebook profile. I’d argue that Open Social (or some variation on that theme), that is very largely company agnostic, will ultimately prevail. I didn’t get the idea Zune Social would be a big winner over time, but …
More: Bloghaus is now open and John Furrier looks like he’ll do a great job blogging CES. Of course it would be nice would be to get some clues about what Furrier and Scoble are up to with the new non-Podtech startup thing they’ll announce after CES, but I don’t blame them for keeping it a secret during the CES news maelstrom which started … today.
One of the contrasts I’m already noting between this conference and the pure internet conferences is that here it seems many people are only “just starting” to understand the importance and significance of online social media where at the internet conferences this is a given, and in fact many Silicon Valley businesses fail because they don’t realize how most regular folks could care less about many aspects of the social media revolution – they’ll wait for mass adoption rather than become early adopters.
In the gaming session discussing Massively Multiplayer Online games the most interesting observations were about the nexus of socializing and games, though how this would play out did not seem clear to any of the panelists. I’ll try to write more on that session later, but key points were the potential growth of simple free games like Maplestory & Runescape and how those games were monetizing using “micropayments”, where users buy small game items with real money. Also interesting was the discussion of the “secondary markets” where game features are bought and sold for real money. Based on the enthusiasm of the panelists, I think this is a really interesting market to watch.
Posting this from the Venetian/Sands venue bloggers Lounge. CES has done a great job for bloggers at this year’s conference, though I’ll be very interested to see how the press folks respond to the “invasion” of citizen journalists at CES. The bloggers lounges appear to be nicer than the press rooms and I’m still digesting that little trend.
The blog lounge over at Convention Center opens *tomorrow*, and it is located in the back of the south hall.
I’m off to the discussion of MMORPG, console, and PC gaming. I just did a lot of research about that for a Tech Insight Community project so I’m anxious to see how the presenters line up with what I learned from that … more later about this.