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January 2, 2006 8:40 pm

Vegas CES show set to begin

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This week, at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, the leading luminaries of the personal computing, telecommunications and consumer electronics industries will set out their visions for the future of their converging businesses.

Intel, the world's biggest chip maker and the driving force behind the personal computing revolution, will use the show to launch its new strategy as a consumer brand built around a new generation of multimedia chips.

This Intel ‘platform’ dubbed Viiv, along with a new low powered dual core processor called Core, will deliver longer battery life for portable computing and improved audio and video capabilities for the living room. Instead of focusing on hardware sales, Intel will in the future sell what it calls “a digital lifestyle.”

As part of the shift Intel confirmed last week, that it will ditch its longstanding ‘Intel Inside’ moniker and launch an extensive re-branding campaign.

Paul Otellini, Intel's chief executive, is expected to provide more details of the shift when he delivers a CES keynote speech on Thursday which is also likely to include comments on Intel’s new role as microprocessor supplier to Apple Computer, the PC maker whose fortunes have been reinvigorated by the success of the iPod, portable digital music player.

While Apple will not have a corporate presence at CES – Apple’s Steve Jobs holds the annual MacWorld evet in San Francisco a week later – other companies will use the show to launch a raft of new iPod accessories ranging from speakers and headphones to cases and add-on powerpacks.

As usual, CES which formally opens on Thursday and is expected to be attended by 200,000 visitors, will be kicked off with a keynote speech by Bill Gates, Microsoft’s chairman, on Wednesday.

Mr Gates is expected to use the event to highlight Microsoft’s push into the consumer electronics industry and to preview the software giant’s new Windows operating system –Vista- due to be launched later this year.

Other keynote speakers include Sony’s Howard Stringer who is expected to lay out his strategy for the once mighty Japanese consumer electronics group that now straddles the digital hardware and content industries.

Appropriately, the final CES keynote will be given by Larry Page, one of Google’s co-founders and a growing thorn in Microsoft’s side.

In the meantime, the show is also expected to be the focus of another battle between competing standards for the next generation of high definition digital video recorders.

Pioneer, the Japanese consumer electronics group, will use the event to unveil the first Blu-Ray DVD recorder for a PC. Blu-Ray, backed by Sony, Apple, Panasonic and 20th Century Fox, while the competing HD-DVD standard is backed by  Toshiba, NEC,  Sanyo , Microsoft, and Warner Brothers.  

With high definition technology and content likely to be a central theme of the CES show, both camps will be looking to win new supporters.

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