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In-Home Streaming “Appliances:” The Next Big Thing?
No, not the kind of appliances that fit in a rack. We’re talking about devices that stream around the home for various purposes, and they were out in force at two recent trade shows.
Tues., Jan. 22, by Tim Siglin

The past few weeks, I've been filing stories from the floors of two shows that define the consumer electronics industry: the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, with its 140,000 attendees and what seems like miles of show floor, and the Macworld San Francisco show, which many times creates a momentary pause in all news coverage as Steve Jobs reveals "one more thing."

This year's shows, while revealing interesting products, were more like the broadcast shows I cover (IBC in Amsterdam and NAB in Las Vegas): Those shows provide glimpses into a few technologies that may make the big time at next year's shows, but often aren't being released right at the time of the show. For CES especially and, to a lesser extent, Macworld, this is a new approach, as most consumer electronics products shown are readily or soon available to the general public. Apple got a "bye" last year with the announcement of iPhone, which was released mid-year, but this year it only received a "ho-hum" for its new products and also ended up with a stock that got hammered, down almost 25% as of the time of this writing from its high of $198 the day after Christmas.

Still, in my last filing about CES and Macworld before moving on to shows like Video 08, NAB, and the Streaming Media East show in May, I want to mention a new breed of consumer product I found in the aisles of show floors—products for which I can think of no better name than streaming appliances.

Yes, I know we already use that term in the industry as a backwards way of saying "our server is so easy that it operates just like an appliance," but these products really are appliances for the home that add streaming to them. And, no, I'm not talking about streaming refrigerators, although Whirlpool showed one with a special power accessory dock that holds an iPod, a tablet notebook computer, and a wireless digital photo frame that streams pictures to it, which Whirlpool has nicknamed "Central Park."