Theme of the Day: Device Convergence

As mentioned briefly yesterday, we expect much of the product innovation unveiled at CES to deal with device convergence  particularly with sharing content between Web, mobile and TV.

Bill Gates’ keynote had this theme, but it showed little difference from the messages he tried to send last year and the year before (that Xbox will be the center of the connected living room). A focus on Windows Vista gave it a slightly new twist though.

Other convergence will happen between Web and TV. With flat panel monitors coming down in price and becoming such hot items during the recent holiday season, they are taking center stage at CES. The timing is also right for devices that bring Web content to televisions. Apple brought this idea to the masses in September with the introduction of iTV, which today received an official launch, a closer look and a new name (Apple TV) at Macworld.

In short, the device will jibe well with Apple’s efforts to get users to download more content from iTunes (Steve Jobs in his keynote today made a point to emphasize the 2 billion songs and 1.3 million movies sold on iTunes, and the 250 movie titles and 350 TV shows currently available). The device will cost US$299 and will ship in February.

This user adoption will hit a wall at a certain point if the use case requires watching movies on your computer screen. This is why the seamless transition of content to television sets could affect overall interest and adoption of downloading movies and TV shows  especially in the case of Apple TV, given its elegant user interface and sleek controller (pics here).

In general this bridge between the PC and TV, once it reaches mainstream status, will push forward a much greater adoption of online video in all shapes and sizes (beyond user-generated amateur content that currently rules the medium). We have more analysis of the advertising and local aspects to all this here.

AT CES, we are also starting to see the first signs of a mainstream push for these “bridge” devices. A few were introduced today from Sling Media (maker of the Slingbox) and networking hardware provider Netgear. CNET has more details and also has a nice roundup of overall CES coverage.

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