Companies show off wares on opening day
LAS VEGAS — Bob Iger preached devotion to a multi-platform future at the Consumer Electronics Show on Monday, showing off a slew of upcoming Disney content that he hopes attendees will be putting on their devices in the coming years.
His address followed keynotes given by Microsoft topper Bill Gates and Motorola CEO Ed Zander that revealed new partnerships to use their technology for media consumption at home, in the car and on cell phones.
Mouse House topper’s keynote address was one of two to be given this week by big names from traditional media. CBS CEO Leslie Moonves will be trotting out several new media innovators today to brag about their partnerships with his network, including YouTube co-founder Chad Hurley, Sling Media CEO Blake Krikorian, and Philip Rosedale, head of online virtual community “Second Life.”
CBS was the first network to reach a deal with YouTube, which is now owned by Google, to distribute clips of its content on the viral video site in exchange for a cut of associated ad revenue. Moonves is likely to boast about traffic CBS videos have gotten since debuting this fall and may announce a broader partnership that includes putting more or longer-form network content on the site. Moonves will also discuss a contest to solicit user-generated videos. The winner will air during the Super Bowl.
In his hourlong address, Iger focused on Disney’s efforts to put its content on the Web, on phones, and other digital platforms, garnering the applause of the techie audience as he proclaimed that a purely punitive approach to fighting piracy won’t work.
“The best way to combat piracy is to make content available on a well-priced, well-timed basis,” he said, noting that Disney was the first to put TV shows and movies on iTunes and implying that it isn’t reluctant to tinker with traditional release patterns, despite the risk of upsetting existing partners.
As expected, Iger gave CES attendees an overview of the soon-to-relaunch Disney.com, which the Mouse is turning into a broadband hub for all of its content aimed at kids.
New Disney.com will feature MySpace-like capabilities for kids to build profiles and earn virtual prizes by interacting with Disney properties like “High School Musical,” Tinkerbell, and Pixar films. Site will also feature a new “Pirates of the Caribbean” multi-player online game that will launch this spring and, unlike similar games like “World of Warcraft,” be free.
Disney stars who joined Iger on stage included “Lost’s” Matthew Fox and Evangeline Lilly, “Monday Night Football” host Mike Tirico, and Jerry Bruckheimer
At Gates’ keynote Sunday night, Robbie Bach, president of Microsoft’s Entertainment Devices division, revealed company’s plans to start using its Xbox 360 vidgame console as a set top box. Tech giant is working with five telecom companies, including AT&T and British Telecom, to deliver television over Internet lines (known as IPTV) through the 360.
Combined with company’s Xbox Live video download service, which on Sunday added Lionsgate as its third studio partner along with Par and WB and TV providers CBS and MTV Networks, Microsoft is now turning its vidgame box into a full-fledged entertainment console that it hopes will be the center of consumers’ living rooms.
A partnership between Microsoft and Ford Motor Co. will allow drivers to make hands-free calls on their cell phones, have incoming text messages read to them and link portable music players to the car’s audio system. The system will be included in 12 of Ford’s 2008 models; Apple already has deals in place to integrate iPods with vehicles from several other manufacturers, including Ford, GM, and BMW.
At Motorola’s press conference Monday morning, CEO Ed Zander said his company is working with Warner Music Group to make more info about artists available to accompany digital music on phones, including bios, album covers, videos and cell phone wallpaper. Motorola’s new Razr Z6 phone will be able to purchase music from 200 online music stores around the world, Zander said, and demonstrated new software that makes it easier to transfer songs between a PC and phone.
Yahoo also made news in the mobile space Monday, announcing a new version of its Yahoo! Go software for phones that it hopes will make it a dominant player in search for cell phones. Though Google has become the clear leader in Web search, mobile search is still a nascent market that Terry Semel’s Netco hopes it can dominate. Yahoo has partnerships with numerous cellular providers to offer its software and will also pre-load Yahoo! Go on several Motorola phones.
In addition, TiVo is demonstrating at CES how its software will work on Comcast DVRs. Companies announced a partnership two years ago and are hoping to finally launch the service by this spring. For an additional fee, Comcast DVR subscribers will be able to get TiVo’s software interface, which makes DVR recording much easier and will integrate Comcast video-on-demand.