Pacts pack punch at CES


LAS VEGAS -- Mobile media and advanced TV services were the big news on the opening day of the Consumer Electronics Show, where Warner Music announced a partnership with Motorola, TiVo showed off its long awaited collaboration with Comcast, and Yahoo revealed a new strategy to gets its service onto mobile phones.

TV news started at Microsoft founder Bill Gates' keynote Sunday night, where Robbie Bach, president of Microsoft's Entertainment Devices division revealed company's plans to start using its Xbox 360 vidgame console as a set top box. Tech giant is working with five telecom companies, including AT&T and British Telecom, to deliver television over Internet lines (known as IPTV) through the 360.

Combined with company's Xbox Live video download service, which on Sunday added Lionsgate as its third studio partner along with Par and WB and TV providers CBS and MTV Networks, Microsoft is now turning its vidgame box into a full fledged entertainment console that it hopes will be the center of consumers' living rooms.

At the show, which officially opened Monday, TiVo is demonstrating how its software will work on Comcast DVRs. Companies announced their partnership two years ago and are hoping to finally launch the service by this spring. For an additional fee, Comcast DVR subscribers will be able to get TiVo's highly regarded software interface, which makes DVR recording much easier and will integrate Comcast video-on-demand.

At Motorola's press conference Monday morning, CEO Ed Zander said his company is working with Warner Music Group to make more information about artists available to accompany digital music on phones, including bios, album covers, videos, and cell phone wallpaper. Zander suggested that album covers once provided this kind of richer fan experience. Motorola's new Razr Z6 phone will be able to purchase music from 200 online music stores around the world, Zander said, going on to demonstrate new software that makes it easier to transfer songs between a PC and phone.

Yahoo also made news in the mobile space Monday, announcing a new version of its Yahoo! Go software for phones that it hopes will make it a dominant player in search for cell phones. Though Google has become the clear leader in Web search, mobile search is still a nascent market that Terry Semel's Netco hopes it can dominate. Yahoo has partnerships with numerous cellular providers to offer its software and will also pre-load Yahoo! Go on several Motorola phones.

DirecTV on Monday unveiled a new suitcase-size product called DirecTV Sat-Go that lets users carry a 17-inch screen with a satellite receiver to watch the satcaster's programming wherever they want.

Its main competitor EchoStar announced that it will attempt to woo consumers from DirecTV and cable by offering its hi-def DVR for free to subs who sign up for hi-def TV.

Later in the day Monday, Disney CEO Bob Iger was scheduled to give a keynote address in which he was expected to reveal a revamp of and outline the Mouse's broadband strategy going forward.


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