CES 06 Overview

Ok, time for a wrap up of this year’s International Consumer Electronics Show. In the old days, CES was where retailers and developers went to see the latest clocks, lamps, refrigerators and so forth. Now it’s a place where everybody goes to see and introduce the newest DVD players, plasma screens, computers, portable media players, HD gear, video game consoles, cell phones, camcorders, and home theater systems. Almost every product or service at CES this year was related to media or visual entertainment in some way.

Scott Kirstner is calling this the Year of Video at CES. It’s not NAB yet, but the emphasis on media production, consumption, and distribution was overwhelming. The big electronics companies and big studios teamed up, and major actors like Tom Hanks, Morgan Freeman, Robin Williams, and Tom Cruise were on hand to introduce products and speakers. The FCC was there to talk about issues with the new media technologies, and pretty much everyone was thinking about television and movies.

Engadget had the fastest, fullest coverage, with a full team live-blogging lots of the keynotes and providing plenty of pics and mini write-ups of all the new stuff. You can also check out ArsTechnica for more in-depth articles on such things as Intel’s keynote, which pushed the digital entertainment platform Viiv and its subsequent tv and film distribution potential, Microsoft’s keynote, which touted Windows Media Center and its tv and film management ability, and Google’s keynote, which introduced the Google video store and its partners. Seeing a theme here?

Let’s focus on Google for a moment. It looks a lot like Apple’s new video store; a distribution contract with a major network (CBS) and record company (Sony BMG), and a couple of dollars per download. They also have all upcoming NBA games, classic cartoons, and a few indie offerings, but by far the greatest selling point is the ability to upload and sell your own videos. No mega-million-dollar studio contract is required to be a vendor in the Google Video Store, just upload your clip — be it a short, how-to, documentary, or feature — and choose a price for it. That’s all that will be required. No real info on its DRM solution yet, just that it will have one.

Obviously, there were a lot more things that went on there, but the Google news is, I think, the most interesting for those trying to make and market independent films. There are plenty of other articles about all aspects of the show, and now that the event is over you can expect to find plenty of editorials about the tech and breakdowns of each keynote. And this week we’ve got Apple vs. Adobe at Macworld SF. Fun fun.