HJ-ED-DHJHerald Journal Columns

January 22, 2007, Herald Journal

Highlights from the 2007 Consumer Electronics Show

By MARK OLLIG

Here is the question: What had over 2,700 exhibitor displays that filled over 1.8 million net square feet of floor space and attracted over 140,000 people from across the globe?

Why the 2007 Consumer Electronics Show of course.

The 40th anniversary of the International CES that was recently held in Las Vegas, Nevada is acknowledged as the world’s largest consumer technology tradeshow.

In last week’s column we talked with Sarah Szabo, who is the Public Relations Event Manager for the Consumer Electronics Association.

Sarah told us that one of the CES keynote speakers would be Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates. This would be Gate’s tenth CES keynote appearance. Bill Gates, in this year’s keynote address talked about how Microsoft is fulfilling its promise of a “Connected Experience.” He also talked about the release of the new Vista operating software, saying that it is the most important software release of Windows ever. The new Windows Vista operating system will be available at the end of this month for consumers.

Gates was later joined on stage by Ford Motor Company’s executive vice president Mark Fields, to introduce the Microsoft-Ford “Sync” partnership – which promises to take the connected experience to the car. Microsoft auto software will connect devices into the vehicle allowing consumers to synchronize calls and other content with their car audio system.

The fully upgradeable technology will be available in 12 Ford car models this year. I did some research and “Sync” in addition to allowing hands-free calling on a cell phone, will also read incoming text messages to the driver.

This is something I feel will make driving a little more safer. While traveling in my car there have been occasions when I have noticed people who are looking down at their cell phones reading a text message while driving in traffic. It would be great to have those text messages read aloud instead. This “Sync” will, of course, connect with a Zune music player . . . which is a Microsoft product that competes with Apple’s very popular iPod.

Speaking of Apple Computer, in a previous column I wrote about Ford and GM announcing agreements with Apple to integrate the Apple iPod into cars. The Ford iPod initiative is called “TripTunes Advanced,” and is tailored specifically to integrate an iPod into a car’s audio system.

With TripTunes, an iPod runs through a special connection in the glove box and automatically charges while the car is on.

Songs playing on an iPod are displayed on the car radio screen. All iPod functions, including volume and track selection, can be controlled by steering-wheel settings.

While we are talking about Apple Computer, I thought you might be interested to know that Apple’s “MacWorld 2007” Expo was recently held in San Francisco.

Apple’s CEO Steve Jobs who some consider to be the “Babe Ruth” of Silicon Valley, announced the new “iPhone” product, which is a combination cell phone, iPod and portable internet device all in one. It works without buttons, utilizing a touch-sensitive screen.

The iPhone will be available in either 4 or 8 gigabyte models. They will be Wi-Fi compatible and will feature “visual voice mail.” Only Cingular Wireless (which I just learned will be soon be renamed to AT&T) will be supplying the phone as it has an exclusive two year contract. The iPhone will be available in June but it will not come cheap, as it will cost around $500-$600.

Apple has been very successful with over 70 million of its popular music iPods being sold.

In 2006, over one-billion cell phones were purchased by consumers and I believe that Apple would like to get in on some of that action with the iPhone.

I am hoping the fans of Apple Computer or “Apple Inc.” as it is now known, are pleased that your humble columnist here at Bits & Bytes gave some equal time to them today.

Bill Gates concluded his address to the attending crowd of over 4,000 telling them that he would return to deliver the 2008 International CES keynote address.

CBS Chief Executive Leslie Moonves also addressed the CES attendees as he announced the new “Google Video Store” and a partnership between CBS and Google that makes CBS and Paramount Studios television shows available for a small fee through the Google Video Store. The Google Video Store also will feature a complete library of video content including NBA basketball games, Sony music videos, cartoon classics and TV host Charlie Rose clips. Google Video Store content can be viewed on a downloadable video player for a PC or on the Apple iPod or Sony PlayStation Portable.

Speaking of TV and films, there were some Hollywood stars like Tom Cruise that attended the CES during Yahoo! Chairman and CEO Terry Semel’s address.

Comedian Robin Williams, who along with Google Co-Founder and President of Products Larry Page gave demonstrations of prototype applications of the popular “Google Earth” software, including an automobile in-dash version through a partnership with Volkswagen and a real-time version for cell phones. He also presented “Google Talk” an instant messaging service and “Google Pack” a free software bundle available for download to enhance the workability of personal computers.

For more information on the 2007 International CES, including keynote address transcripts, photographs and new products visit the wwwCESweb.org website.

The 2008 International CES is scheduled for January 7-10, in Las Vegas, Nevada, and this columnist hopes to be there in person to bring you some firsthand interviews and stories.