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NCTA Execs: Convergence Coming, Interface Key

Apr 4, 2005  •  Post A Comment

An eclectic panel of powerful communications industry figureheads weighed in on the myriad technological changes facing their industries during the second day of the National Cable & Telecommunications Association convention in San Francisco Monday.

Cisco Systems President and CEO John Chambers, DreamWorks co-founder Jeffrey Katzenberg, AOL Chairman and CEO Jon Miller, Google President Larry Page and Comcast Chairman and CEO Brian Roberts agreed that the confluence of products such as cellphones, gaming consoles, TiVo, personal computers and iPods have created an “administrative nightmare” of gadgetry that will inevitably be simplified–and that presents an opportunity for cable.

“I came home to watch ‘Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines’ and the machines are winning,” Mr. Miller said. “Consumers want things to work, but they’re searching for simplicity.”

Few were willing to point to any specific product line or technology as being of central importance. Instead, combining technologies with an attractive, simple user-friendly interfaces was seen as being of utmost importance. Some pointed to their children’s multitasking habits as evidence the marketplace will increasingly cater to a fractured consumption of media.

“It’s not what will they buy today, it’s what they will they buy in three to five years from now,” Mr. Chambers said. “I don’t think it will be a device [that exists] today, I think it will be a combination of devices. It’s all about who executes the best.”

One noted trend was the influence of user-created content–such as print and video blogs–and how such interaction might be combined with existing delivery systems. “It’s not just about seeing a sporting event, it’s about what you think about the event [and sharing it with others,” Mr. Miller said.

At one point Google chief Mr. Page drew hearty applause when he announced that cable was well positioned to be a broadband industry leader and that he personally switched from DSL to a cable modem. “It’s much faster,” he said.