Monday, January 8, 2007 - The Progress & Freedom Foundation Blog

Dispatch from CES: Gates and Road Hazards

[Note: Today's post on IP issues at CES can be found on the IPCentral blog.]

As Adam noted, he and I squeezed our way into a massive ballroom at the Venetian Hotel last night to hear Bill Gates. His appearances here have become so regular that it made me think of a high-fiber diet. It also creates pressure on him to top his previous performances with the next new thing, which is very difficult to do for anyone, let alone a man who clearly is very bright but would be the first to admit is not much of a performer.

Still, Adam and I learned a lot last night about Vista, which looks pretty remarkable. My HP Windows XP Media Center computer at home works great and does everything I need, so I don't know that I'll upgrade immediately, but Vista allows one to manipulate media in fun new ways, and it can turn your desktop wallpaper into a movie (people oohed when the waterfall wallpaper on the screen suddenly started flowing). Not sure we need that but it's cool. Adam learned that there are some fun new things he'll be able to do with his XBox 360 via a connection with a Vista PC.

I'm not a product reviewer, so I'll let you read the thousands of stories filed on the speech (you would not believe how big the media section was for the speech, and it still couldn't fit all the reporters). But I will note something Gates said right at the beginning of his presentation -- consumers want access to media when they want in the way they want it. He is of course right, and he's also not the first person to make this observation. Many of the hundreds of exhibitors here at CES are collecting venture capital and rolling out products based on that very premise. Microsoft has an excellent track record in respecting copyright, and is the author of major DRM software, so I trust Gates to be respectful of copyrights as he has his engineers develop all these new tools. I hope Microsoft's competitors are equally respectful.

Now for the silly product of the day. We all know that Steve Jobs has single-handedly given a boost to GDP with the cottage industry of iPod accessories 3rd-party manufacturers are producing. My son has an iDog and my daughter an iFish. But this product seems a bit, well, dangerous. I've seen people applying make-up and reading the paper while driving; I'm sure those dolts wouldn't hesitate to drive while wearing this.

posted by Patrick Ross @ 6:15 PM | Innovation