Oracle chief executive Larry Ellison expects consumers will soon use set-top boxes to simultaneously watch television and surf online, echoing the views of Microsoft CEO Bill Gates.
Speaking after a keynote speech at Comdex Spring to launch Custom News, a personalised news service from CNN and Oracle, Ellison said: "It is possible to blend customised Internet and broadcasts in set-top boxes. I see excitement in interactivity while watching broadcasts."
Ellison followed a similar argument to the one used by Gates at the Win HEC developers? conference in February, when Gates said the forthcoming release of Windows, codenamed Memphis, will include TV alongside Internet-based information. Ellison gave the example that sports viewers could watch games and chat about them to other online fans or receive information on players.
Custom news is an addition to CNN.com, the broadcaster?s Web site. It allows surfers to personalise their news feed on the site in a similar way to Yahoo. Ellison claimed it improves on services from 'push' vendors such as Pointcast because the information resides on servers and only the chosen content is downloaded, saving bandwidth. Personal content is also accessible from any browser.
Thirty two news bureaux, including global agencies, will supply Custom News and the company maintains a Swedish language news site and plans a Spanish version. But the news content has limited appeal to those outside the US and CNN representatives admitted European custom services from local news sources in other languages are some way off.
Officials claimed the site will not damage CNN?s supply agreement with Pointcast because customers can choose to stick with Pointcast or to personalise their Custom News feed - an answer that did not convince observers. Custom News uses Oracle?s Con Text software, part of Universal Server, for searches. Con Text 'reads' articles using linguistic tools to indexes both words and themes.
Ellison said the idea will allow advertisers to target specific customers, whom he claimed will not object to receiving ads that are relevant to them. The deal poses a threat to Microsoft and NBC?s collaboration on MSNBC, the TV channel and Web site, but Oracle will not provide content, unlike Microsoft, whose "content is such a resounding success", Ellison joked.
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