advertising information
   personal technology

 custom news
 Headline News brief
 daily almanac
 CNN networks
 CNN programs
 on-air transcripts
 news quiz

CNN Websites
 video on demand
 video archive
 audio on demand
 news email services
 free email accounts
 desktop headlines

 message boards





Portals open doors to convergence at CES

January 8, 1999
Web posted at: 6:14 p.m. EDT (1814 GMT)

by Jim Evans

(IDG) -- LAS VEGAS - You'll never guess what the big portals are talking about at the Consumer Electronics Show. Well, maybe you will. After all, it's been the buzzword for many CES shows, past and present: convergence.

  • The future of digital TV at CES
  • InteractiveIMAGE GALLERY

    Look at some of the products on display at CES


    "On January 1, nineteen ninety whatever, everybody always says, 'oh, this is the year of convergence,'" says Trevor Traina, president of CompareNet. "This year is no different."

    But portals don't usually make big splashes at hardware shows like CES. At CES, convergence has mostly meant putting together different products like hand-held devices, televisions and computers. So why would the portals be interested in that?

    It may be puzzling that the portals are in attendance at CES, a trade show where stereo executives mingle with television manufacturers. But many people are paying more attention to such platforms as hand-held devices, set-top boxes and the like.

    "We're dabbling a little, but in a lot of areas," says B.D. Goel, Infoseek's senior VP and general manager of commerce. "We're tracking the trends very carefully, so we can jump on whatever happens. Because of our connection with Disney, we can do anything."

    Other companies are doing more than dabbling. Last month, Yahoo announced testing of a product that will allow users to download their schedules and address books into 3Com's Palm Pilot via Microsoft's Outlook software. Infoseek has also looked at hand-held platforms.

      Industry Standard home page
      Industry Standard email newsletters
      Industry Standard daily Media Grok
      Industry Standard financial news
      Industry Standard e-commerce stories
      Computerworld "Emmerce"
      Fusion financial report
    Free registration required to access this site
      InfoWorld Internet commerce section
     Reviews & in-depth info at's personal news page
      Questions about computers? Let's editors help you
      Search in 12 languages
      Subscribe to's free daily newsletter for computer industry cognoscenti
     News Radio
      Fusion audio primers
      Computerworld Minute

    "We are an information provider, so for us hand-helds have always been an integral part of our strategy," Infoseek's Goel says. "And we are tracking the process of handhelds."

    Others say this is the perfect time for portals to be talking about convergence. Portals are beginning to look more and more like television networks. In particular, America Online, Lycos and the new Infoseek/Disney collaboration,, have all adopted a similar strategy: They run self-supporting brands as separate entities within a single network. The more networks a portal has, the higher the possibility that it can exploit its content through a different medium, like hand-held devices.

    Although preaching convergence is important to the portal players, don't underestimate one of the big reasons portal companies are sending executives to CES: to make deals.

    On Thursday, executives from Lycos, Excite and Infoseek will speak on a panel called "In the Eye of the Internet Networks: The Power of Conglomeration" at CES' Digital Hollywood, a kind of a show within the show. Expect more deals in the coming months like the one Infoseek recently signed with Microsoft making it the search engine on WebTV's services.

    The message of Internet networks is an important one for the big portals. But the presence of portals at CES makes an even more significant statement: The portals firmly believe that theirs is the content medium of the future, and it has only just begun.

    Related stories:
    Latest Headlines

    Today on CNN

    Related stories:

    Note: Pages will open in a new browser window Related sites:

    External sites are not
    endorsed by CNN Interactive.

    Enter keyword(s)   go    help


    Back to the top
    © 2000 Cable News Network. All Rights Reserved.
    Terms under which this service is provided to you.
    Read our privacy guidelines.