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January 5, 2006

Bill Gates CES06 keynote observations

Posted by David Hunter at 12:06 PM ET.

Last night’s CES keynote by Bill Gates and helpers is drawing a variety of reactions from mostly favorable (Joe Wilcox at Jupiter Research) to mostly unfavorable like that of Peter Kafka at Forbes:

A note to the poor guy who kept pestering me for my press pass to see Bill Gates speak Wednesday evening: Sorry. I have no idea why you were desperate to see the Man of the Year’s presentation, but if it makes you feel better, you didn’t miss much.

This isn’t a dig at the Microsoft co-founder, or his company. It’s just that Gates didn’t have a lot of news to deliver at the Consumer Electronics Show keynote address, and what he did say took an awfully long time–more than 90 minutes, by my very rough count. The much shorter synopsis: Microsoft wants to do more than run your PC; it wants to be in your living room, your phone and everywhere else you can think of, just as fast as it can.

Frankly, I’m in the latter camp. Here’s a quick rundown of what I felt to be the “high” spots:

Digital Lifestyle Demo: I’m always a sucker for futuristic demos – the gadgets are great and they always show the poverty of imagination of the marketeers. This was no exception. Poor Bill Gates got to demonstrate a vision of the digital lifestyle of four years in the future where lots of interesting technology is apparently to be used for wildly inappropriate purposes.

Windows Vista: Very little was new here. I personally was giving demos of many of the same Vista (then Longhorn) features two years ago. Also, you can say “Confident,” “Clear,” and “Connected” too many times.

Media Player: The unintentionally humorous appearances by MTV Networks’ Music Group President Van Toffler and “wardrobe malfunction” guy, Justin Timberlake didn’t detract from the fact that the URGE music service may be a winner. It requires only Windows Media Player, not a Media Center PC, and it’s available as both a subscription and individual item purchase model. All devices compatible with Windows Media will work with URGE. The risks are that the pricing will be wrong and that MTV will choke it with non-musical flummery.

Media Center Deals: New content deals for Media Center PC’s are useful but the recent growth in Media Center shipments was due to low end boxes shipped without TV tuners so it’s unclear what real effect TV oriented content will have. And sorry, but introducing a 2nd generation of Portable Media Centers won’t fix a flawed model.

Windows Mobile: The Palm Treo 700w looks like a winner and that will make Microsoft look good as well. Microsoft based smart phones are looking up.

VoIP: The partner phones are typical of the genre and Microsoft is a bit late to the party. They were with mobile phones too, of course.

Xbox 360: Were Gates and Ballmer really boxing or was it rigged? It’s still early days for Xbox 360, but it’s looking good, and despite some press astonishment, the availability of a HD DVD attachment this year was as certain as death and taxes.

Filed under Bill Gates, CES06, Conferences, Coopetition, Executives, HD DVD, Hardware, MTV, Media Player, OS - Client, Palm, Portable Media Center, Technologies, VoIP, Windows Mobile, Windows Vista, Xbox

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5 Responses to “Bill Gates CES06 keynote observations”

  1. Microsoft dishes up more “people-ready” -- Microsoft News Tracker Says:

    [...] One doesn’t expect marketing campaigns to have huge intellectual depth, but this one seems to have started on a particularly bad note. It doesn’t help that Ballmer was touting the soon to be delayed Windows Vista, but the real problem is the insistence on “people-ready” for offerings that seem to be anything but. Nicholas Carr hits the broader problem of tech companies offering “Neat!” features that only a tech geek could love and pointedly recalls Bill Gates’ cringe-inducing CES06 demo. The good news, of course, is that the problem is self-correcting. The bad news is for the companies that get corrected. Filed under Executives, Steve Ballmer, MBS, General Business, Dynamics, Public Relations, Jeff Raikes, Marketing, Microsoft Listen to this article   [Permalink] [...]

  2. New Windows Media Player due in June -- Microsoft News Tracker Says:

    [...] Microsoft seems to be playing the details of the XP version close to the vest, but there is some speculation about features in the full article. We’ve previously mentioned the Urge deal, which despite its unpromising announcement, may well be a winner. Filed under OS – Client, Windows XP, Windows Vista, Coopetition, Technologies, Media Player, MTV, Microsoft Listen to this article   [Permalink] [...]

  3. Consumer Electronics Show Spoiler Alert -- Microsoft News Tracker Says:

    [...] Ouch! The rest of the article is about some smaller companies who may actually have some inspired ideas as to what the “Digital Home” might be, but if we can’t count on the big players for anything earthshaking, I expect that like last year we can at least count on them for something mirth making (e.g. [1], [2]). [...]

  4. Microsoft Surface: Bah, humbug! -- Microsoft News Tracker Says:

    [...] The net is that while Microsoft Surface is fine for preliterates or for a simplified UI in a kiosk, its utility stops there. The good news is that overheated hype aside, Microsoft is going after the right niche for it and not trying to pursue the consumer digital lifestyle context in which a precursor was displayed at the 2006 Consumer Electronics Show among other places. [...]

  5. Microsoft’s cool advertising duo: Seinfeld and Gates | Microsoft News Tracker Says:

    [...] talk Mr. Gates into another goofy future digital lifestyle demo like he used to give at CES (cf. 2006 and 2007- they were hyping connected experiences then too), although that might work if they played [...]

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