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DVD Insider CeBIT Show Report

by The DVD Insider March 21, 2005

CeBIT in Hanover is head and shoulders the world's largest tech toys show for business and consumer alike. They may have flopped in the U.S. but at home they are supreme even though it is nearly impossible to get a place to stay and downright impossible to see the entire show.

This year set new records with 6,270 exhibitors and "only" 480,000 visitors who must negotiate the 308,881 square meters of displays to find products they want to OEM, integrate, sell, cover for their audience. Companies build their big launches around the show with firms like Philips, Panasonic, Seimens, Thomson, Sony, Toshiba, Samsung, Hitachi and other global leaders having huge pavilion buildings they use only once a year.

Just as Silicon Valley used to get out-of-town when Comdex was on, Taiwan streets have to be silent with 702 firms from the area hawking their new wares. If it tells you anything, 1,600 of the companies came from the Pacific Basin.

The statistics aren't nearly as spectacular as the new toys like breathtaking new TV screens; home wired/wireless networking; next generation DVD and storage; big and little computers; OS and applications software; units that do everything and remotely look like mobile phones; and tech toys of every shape, size and gender. Everyone was on the forefront of delivering technology the consumer was demanding!

CeBIT is Huge Business

You definitely don't want to take the show directory with you as you trudge the aisles.

Everyone at the show was bullish because according to the recent GMIPoll people around the globe have an insatiable appetite for more technology. Everywhere in the world - except the U.S. - people want more PC power followed by TV and mobile phones.

What will they be buying (Figure 3)? Cameras still lead the popularity race followed by wireless, home printing and DVRs. Cameras may pull printing along but they certainly haven't helped to date as people take zillions of photos only to fill memory cards or stuff them in non-descript folders on their hard drives.

People might be getting a clue though because there is an upswing in the sale of stand-alone and bundled software that arrange photos for writing to CD. In addition, mall and photo shop digital kiosks are getting a lot of traffic.

All of these product areas got a lot of attention at CeBIT.

While IBM may have sold most of their storage products to Hitachi, they certainly didn't sell their technology. It's going to be a couple of years away but their 1TB MEMS (micro electrical mechanism system) is what dreams are made of for system designers (Figure 4).

Toshiba blended its technologies together beautifully with home wireless AV networks, their version of next generation DVD (the HD camp) player and slim PC drives. NEC their ally in the push showed prototypes of drives that burn and play HD-DVD, DVD and CD.

The BD camp wasn't to be outdone as Panasonic, Sharp, Samsung and Sony showed recorders and burners they were already selling in the Pacific Basin and will be offering shortly in the Americas (at a hefty price point).

While Panasonic showed the "world's largest mass produced plasma" 65-in, Sharp hawked a similar sized LCD TV. With homes relatively small throughout Asia, we're not certain how people get far enough away to enjoy the 10-ft experience.

At the other end of the spectrum there were enough hand-held personal video players and video-empowered cellphones to satisfy kids who simply must have their MTV! Little Skype got tons of attention though with their capabilities and plans for VoIP and cellphones. But we'll hold off talking about phones till we discuss the CTIA show.

All of the PC folks were excited about showing their newest and shiniest. As Intel's Pat Gelsinger said at IDF we're about to embark on our second billion computers. While that sounds like a big number, Computer Industry Almanac recently reported (Figure 5) there is not only still plenty of room to growth but also a pent-up demand.

The results show why the U.S. is the biggest target for Dell, HP, Lenovo/IBM and the hundreds of clone makers in Taiwan and Mainland China. Wireless networking, multi-system homes and notebooks that to sell must have superb graphics, minimum 40GB HD, minimum 512MB RAM, WiFi, DVD burner and at least AV production are driving the sales. Toshiba, HP and Sony have set the pace with systems that have screens way better than Panasonic's TV and complete (yes, complete) entertainment capabilities.

DVD Insider CeBIT Show Report - CTIA Beauty Pageant

In less than two years this industry has come from being a backroom event to a fashion runway event where it's important to see and be seen. Phones are no longer phones. They are fashion statements that are bent on doing it all - steaming audio, MP3 playback, mobile TV, web browsing, IM, email and the occasional phone call.

It tells you something about the show though when Kodak shares the stage with Sean "P.Diddy" Combs who just happened to bring along his new clothing collection.

We received a message on our phone at the show from an editorial friend asking where we were at. We knew but didn't know our phone even had messaging capabilities! We still haven't read the manual to figure out how to use messaging but we did fumble through and delete the message (after calling him).

Ok so we're not the target customer for most of the service and phone providers but all we want is a phone that works darn near everywhere and say 12-18 hours of calling battery life. Our wish list would also be the ability to sync up with our email service, more (maybe even removable) storage and our calendar. That implies a keyboard designed for people with "normal" size hands. Yes we did look at the Treo and look at it again in its next generation because it's getting close…ok closer.

The rest of the features that excited people at the show were added for young people who have grown up not knowing a cellular phone used to be a 5-pound brick with a battery sidepack.

Cingular and Verizon got a lot of coverage because they announced they were going to connect their picture-messaging networks so their nearly 100 million subscribers could send bad photos back and forth. It must be a hot area because the phone folks are starting to deliver camphones with 2 and 3 MP cameras. Great but the screen is still the size of an old-fashioned matchbook cover.

When your kids tell you they have to have a phone because "everyone" has one, they aren't stretching the truth. In fact 44% of the tweens and teens in the U.S. have cell phones (Figure 6). They are heavily into text messaging (82%) according to Sorrent (a firm that develops and markets products and services to this market) and 84% play mobile games and 83% use ringtones (no wonder it's a multibillion dollar industry!)

Everyone was showing off the newer and better phones we'll expect to see … soon. Motorola that had to pull the plug on their iTunes ready phone at CeBIT did show their new clamshells that included speakerphone, instant messaging, MMS, 2-3MP cameras, VGA camera, MMS and push-to-talk features. NEC, Nokia, LG, Kyocera, Samsung and the others showed a wide array of new units that had CDMA and GMS world phone service.

We liked some of the GPS capabilities but what the H*** for? Hey, it's a phone. If I'm lost I'll call for directions!!!

The bigger news was all of the services you could tap into with your phone. Hollywood, broadcasters and everyone is bent on "serving you better." Satellite radio, video on demand, email and the other services that will be introduced will only do one thing… drive up your phone bill. If you think a theater ticket is expensive, imagine paying for a movie to your service provider.

Here in the states monthly bills have started to rise (Figure 7) after years of decline. The services don't count for all of this - there has been consolidation just in case you haven't noticed. But there were rumors of tiered services much like your cable system at the show. Good because we didn't want to watch your TV show or movie nor listen to your music anyway and paying for something we don't intend on using seems counter-productive.

But the two shows give every indication of renewed vitality. The big winners seem to be the software and service providers.

As for us? We've got a great digital camera/camcorder, a cellphone that does more than we know how to do but we do have our eyes on a great new ultralite notebook with all the bells and whistles!!!