Tuesday, April 17, 2007

HP's Entry Into Web-TV Integration

This past weekend's Wall Street Journal featured Mark Hurd, H-P CEO, as its customary interview.

It's a nice piece, and Hurd seems like a fine CEO. But what really drew my attention was this little passage,

...Hurd points to H-P's new MediaSmart HDTV, which can receive entertainment directly from a PC, as a glimpse of where the company is headed: "to integrate content across the home, whether it's emanating from the Web, from satellites, from cable, or the PC, and bring that to the consumer's touch."

Then Hurd reportedly said that he'd 'probably just told you more than I should have...'

This pretty clearly positions H-P to be in the running, with Apple and TiVo, to market the missing link in video content for the home. That is, the server with wireless access to high-speed cable, et.al., and wired delivery of downloaded and stored content onto home video devices, such as television screens.

In this respect, H-P is certainly morphing itself from a collection of old, force-fit computing platforms (DEC, Compaq), into a competitively-positioned, modern technology-producing device manufacturer. H-P will probably never be the Windows-based equivalent of Apple when it comes to novel and beautifully-designed digital devices, but it seems to be heading toward that ideal under Hurd.

This is great news for consumers, and uncertain news for investors. Were Apple to have had the AppleTV space all to itself for an extended period of time, its investors would probably be ecstatic. The way things are shaping up, though, it looks as though at least TiVo and H-P are going to be joining in, with who knows how many other solution providers on their collective heels.

Does this not bode well for: rapid technological advancement in the product space, falling prices, and ever-wider distribution points for the devices? Perhaps they will be the coming years' equivalent of large, flat-screen TVs for the big box electronics retailers?

Time will, of course, tell all. But personally, I'm excited to see so many technological resources being poured into this rather obvious 'missing link' device space. It should speed the demise of cable companies, push the creaky old media video content owners into a final solution, and provide, at last, a nearly seamless way of acquiring, storing and viewing/consuming digital video content.

Seeing as how I mentioned the cable companies' upcoming dilemma, and noting today's Wall Street Journal piece concerning Time Warner's deliberations on that business, I will write about that tomorrow.

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