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.

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