NWC @ CES: Mobility And Media Built Into Devices

Technology that enables smaller, more media-ready mobile devices was rolled out at this week's Consumer Electronics Show.

January 6, 2006

3 Min Read
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Originally Published on Mobile Pipeline

Among the myriad announcements at the the Consumer Electronics Show that started Thursday in Las Vegas were those in which new types of mobility and media capabilities are being built into mobile devices. For instance, Toshiba announced it is shipping a 4GB version of its.85-inch hard-drive for storing media on mobile devices such as smartphones and MP3 players. It also announced it plans to offer the tiny hard drives at 10 GB capacity. Even as flash memory capacities increase, hard drive capacities are increasing.

Chipmaker Broadcom said it has created what it claims is the first chipset for mobile phones with both mobile video and Wi-Fi support. One of its competitors, SyChip, introduced what it claims is the thinnest Wi-Fi module for cell phones.

Hewlett-Packard unveiled its nc6140 laptop with built-in 3G EV-DO capabilities. HP is only the latest vendor that is building in 3G. Dell, among others, has also announced it will ship 3G laptops.

Palm Officially Unveils Windows Mobile TreoPalm Thursday officially unveiled its Windows Mobile Treo smartphone, which is initially being offered for Verizon Wireless' 3G EV-DO cellular data network.

Big announcement: Treo. Big unannounced event – Palm OS Treo being advertised for $199. Get ready for smartphones to hit the mainstream.

Of Porn And Prices

I've barely stuck my toe into the CES waters and already I've had two big lessons. First, while I've railed about the price the cellcos ask for 3G service, I want it on this trip. A lot. Second, don't underestimate the power of porn when it comes to mobile TV.

The latter realization came to me in the cab line. The adult entertainment's trade show occurs at the same time as CES and the guy behind me in the cab line was an adult entertainment attorney. Nice guy, actually. We had plenty of time to talk since we were in the cab line the better part of an hour.I told him about my doubts about mobile TV even though it will be one of the biggest themes of CES this year. He said he'd seen demos and the technology was terrific. Yes, I countered smugly, but will anybody actually used it? He smiled and reminded me that he was in the pornography industry and, well, OK. I understood. Yes, porn could well be a major application for mobile TV.

And, while the cellcos are blocking all types of uses of their 3G networks, like voice-over-IP, the chances they'll block porn is probably slim. That is, if they get their cut. So, yes ... here's an application that could make mobile TV big. Also, the Rose Bowl was on while I was in the cab line. I would have happily paid five bucks to watch it on my mobile TV, although I'd be unlikely to pay $5 a month on an ongoing basis. I'm still not convinced that mobile TV will be a mainstream thing, but now I at least think it has some potential.

As for 3G, less than 24 hours into the trip, I've already spent about twenty bucks for hotspot access. And one of the hotspots - the one in O'Hare Airport - really stunk. It was slow and I had to move to another part of the terminal to get connected. I've used both Sprint's and Verizon Wireless' 3G and I like the service a lot. It's simple to use and works the same wherever there is access.

So even though I think $60 a month for 3G is gouging and is too high for 3G to be a mainstream product, if I traveled even a couple of times a month, it might well be worth it. That's a niche market, but prices will come down eventually, I suppose.

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