Eye-opening ‘Net deals set on first day of CES

CBS.MarketWatch.com to produce ayem financial show

LAS VEGAS — The Intl. Consumer Electronics Show’s first real day of floor action started Thursday with CBS making a pair of Web-related announcements.

The net’s CBS.MarketWatch.com property will produce a weekday morning financial and business show beginning Jan. 31. The show will air on CBS-owned WCBS-TV in New York at 5 a.m.

CBS.MarketWatch also announced a partnership with the Financial Times of London to create FTMarketWatch.com, a site covering both U.S and European financial news.

High-tech shopping

CES also announced Thursday that digital technologies are driving retail sales and DVD players are expected to continue their tremendous growth from last year. In 1999, DVD players sold more than 4 million units and became the fastest-selling product in the history of consumer electronics. The Consumer Electronics Manufacturers Assn. projects sales this year of $1.5 billion.

Televisions will continue their stand as a popular purchase with more than 42 million projected to be sold this year. As more content and products are introduced, digital TV sales are expected to rise to 600,000 this year. The average American household spends $1,000 annually on consumer electronics, twice as much as it spends on furniture, toys or jewelry.

Convergence confab

Thursday also saw the kickoff at CES of the Digital Hollywood sessions, devoted to the convergence of entertainment and technology. At the “Digital Music From the Internet into the Home” panel, Gina Smith, host of “CNET News.com” on CNBC, said 85% of the people who download MP3 files do so for their own use. The panel consensus was that the digital music revolution is still two to three years away, and what is needed are broadband hookups, secure systems and easier user interfaces.

At the “TV and PC Internet Connection” seminar, Bill Pence, director of Internet media development for IBM, echoed the buzz about Web appliances heard on the show floor. Acknowledging the future of products like Palm Pilots and personal digital music players, Pence said, “I don’t believe in convergence, I believe in platforms.” IBM predicts that by 2002, consumer information appliances in various platforms will outship PCs with a total of more than 20 million units shipped.

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