Bill Gates this week urged consumer electronics companies to create 'smart' applications that can talk to the Web and to each other in order to keep pace with the convergence fuelled changes that are happening in their industry.
The Microsoft billionaire's keynote at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas gave no new messages and much of the presentation was stolen from his speech at Comdex in November. But he did reveal that Microsoft plans to rename its next generation Windows CE-based Palm sized PCs as Pocket PCs and that they will feature Microsoft's Reader eBook technology.
He said: "The year 2000 ushers in the 'consumer electronics-plus' era, a defining moment in computing when software will enable new services and new tools for consumers, simply and easily."
Gates said consumers will get personalised, convenient access to their favourite music, news, entertainment, family photos, personal calendars and email through an array of consumer electronics including televisions, telephones, home and car stereos, and Pocket PCs from almost any location.
He believes the same sea change that has shaped the computer industry - notably faster chips, increasingly sophisticated software and the rapid take-up of the Internet - is now hitting the world of consumer electronics. The result, he said, would be an environment where entertainment will be more personalised and will enable consumers to control their homes and security.
"We're used to the PC changing," he said. "Devices like the phone and the TV and the way we get music, those have stayed the same for a long time. These are the devices that will work in new ways."
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