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Fiorina Courts Content Providers In Keynote

LAS VEGAS — Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina staged a very public love-in with the content community at her CES keynote, calling on a host of celebrities to serenade a newly minted marriage within two camps whose relationship has been mostly acrimonious.

Fiorina said the marriage was essential because the ‘future of technology will be made by companies who move content from creation to distribution’ and because even the best technology would ultimately founder in the absence of compelling content.

Fiorina trotted out a number of celebrities to augment the pitch, including Ben Affleck, Dr. Dre, Sheryl Crow, The Edge from U2, Toby Keith, Alicia Keys and producer Paul Rosenberg.

HP’s CEO devoted the bulk of her keynote to outline how her company was positioning itself for a ‘new era where all content and every process is digital, mobile and virtual.’ (See HP’s product introductions on p. 4.)

She said HP would use its massive worldwide retail footprint to ‘democratize’ the digital revolution, bringing sophisticated, yet easy-to-use devices to the masses and making the universe of digital devices work together seamlessly. The goal, she said, was every movie, photograph, song or video ever made, accessible anytime, anywhere on any device.

‘Most living rooms are in need of a digital makeover,’ that would banish the unruly morass of cables behind the home entertainment center, organize the piles of photo prints and store dusty video libraries all in a sleek Entertainment Hub that would function like an enterprise server in the home, Fiorina claimed. Best of all, the confusing cadre of remote controls would be replaced by a single iPaq handheld, she said.

This vision would not be advanced by HP alone, but by a ‘web of companies working together to provide the best experience,’ Fiorina said. The technology had to operate seamlessly with a number of devices, but more important, the devices had to deliver the content that consumers desire.

She touted a recently inked partnership with Apple and announced that HP would sell an HP-branded iPod device that would use the iTunes music service. The goal, Fiorina said, would be ‘to bring iTunes to the market on a massive scale.’ She also detailed partnerships with DreamWorks, Bravo’s Project Greenlight, CBS, Getty Images and the Sundance Film Festival.

In announcing the new music service, Fiorina threw a sharp elbow at music piracy, stating that the era of file sharing has ushered in ‘Kazaa’s law’ — named after one of the more infamous file swapping services. ‘Kazaa’s law states that just because we can steal music doesn’t mean it’s right and doesn’t mean we should,’ she said.

Fiorina stated emphatically that all HP products would provide the most stringent digital rights protection and that the company would become a forceful advocate of digital copy protection such that ‘it is an enabler, not an inhibitor, of digital content.’