The Marketplace Report: 'Convergent' Media in Vegas

Alex Chadwick speaks with Bob Moon of Marketplace about announcements made by Google and Microsoft this week at the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. The companies are unveiling a new range of products that aim to embrace the "convergence" of television and Internet technology.

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ALEX CHADWICK, host:

Back now with DAY TO DAY. I'm Alex Chadwick.

And more on the future of television. In Las Vegas this week, there's the Consumer Electronics Show, a spectacular collection of technology, and a lot of it about television and the Internet. Microsoft and Google are both unveiling plans to offer new ways to watch TV. Bob Moon joins us from the "Marketplace" news bureau in New York.

Bob, Microsoft and Google--they've got some new high-tech gadgets and gizmos at this trade show? Tell us what they announced.

BOB MOON reporting:

Well, they do. Yeah, that and quite a few other companies as well. Before I get to Google's entry into the video on demand business, can I interest you in 103-inch plasma display panel TV?

CHADWICK: A hundred-and-three-inch TV?

MOON: Yeah. This thing was put on display at the CES today. A year ago it was Samsung Electronics that showed off a 102-inch plasma screen. Well, apparently the company that makes Panasonic wants the bragging rights to the word's biggest plasma set, 103 inches. And if you've been out there pricing these plasma displays, you can only imagine what this thing is going to cost. No word on just when it might be available for the average consumer either.

CHADWICK: It'll be cheap next year.

MOON: Yeah, right. On to the unexpected announcement from Google that the future of television is going to be available very soon at an Internet connection near you. Today's Wall Street Journal is reporting that consumers will be able to buy video from CBS and the National Basketball Association and other providers through Google. That big announcement is expected tomorrow. It would be just the latest venture of many into this new method of distributing TV content. In the past few months, of course, we've heard from Apple Computer. They made deals to sell shows from ABC and NBC Universal for about 2 bucks each. Those download will be watchable on computers and the newer versions of Apple's iPod. No word yet on what Google might be charging for its video download.

CHADWICK: And how about Microsoft?

MOON: Well, Bill Gates was at the Consumer Electronics Show this morning. He was unveiling the next generation of the Windows operating system. It's known as Windows Vista. It's aimed at positioning Microsoft as really the entertainment hub for the digital home. He was showing off high definition video that was recorded and played back through Windows, and he says that the unifying factor in all this digital stuff is going to be the software.

CHADWICK: So what is all this software talk doing? Remember a little hardware thing called the DVD? Wasn't that pretty hot?

MOON: Last year you mean?

CHADWICK: Yeah.

MOON: Well, it still is, apparently. Looks like there's going to be a format war for the new high definition versions of the video discs. Toshiba announced yesterday it's going to be offering the first high definition players in a couple of months. They're going to be priced between $500 and $800. That's a price point that comes in below a rival format called Blu-ray, which is supposed to go on sale in May, priced at around $1,800.

And today in the "Marketplace" newsroom, we're watching Howard Stern's new venture in the stock market.

CHADWICK: Bob, we'll be listening for that. Thank you.

Bob Moon of public radio's daily business show "Marketplace," produced by American Public Media.

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