Jaganath hit the nail on the head. Multimedia is the next big growth area for PC's. Pretty much every household in the western world that is in the market for a PC already has one. Now the goal is to try to get all those households to have two (at least). The explosion of digital media into the living room makes that the logical next focus.
Incidentally, who were the ones who chased you down, and what were the products they were trying to show off?
One of business' names is lost to me now...they were no one we've ever heard of, and weren't even in our market if I remember right. I seem to remember that they were selling more of those damn ipod docks and bluetooth picture frames.
But one of the "chasers" does stand out, a startup out of Australia named Bluebox Devices
. Interesting concept...they are developing a purpose-built digital media content delivery system. Basically a "free VOD" service where instead of watching conventional TV channels you will select and subcribe to individual shows and series, all of which are provided free
to the subscriber. They were intentionally very vague about how the system works as a busness model, but it sounds like a "directed advert" type of thing, where they target you with specific commercials based on your demographic data and viewing preferences so that it is still advertiser funded like current broadcast channels.
What interested them in us enough to chase us was how proud they were of their hardware. On the hardware side the system has three parts: a "Media Vault", which is basically a file server to store data, a "Media Adaptor" which connects to your tv, and a "Media Controller" which you use to control the system. The Vault needs only AC power, it communicates to the internet and the other components via 802.11n, so it can be stashed "under the stairs or in a closet" (according to their marketing materials). The Apaptor is essentially an 802.11n reciever that has an HDMI output. The Controller is a UMPC sized touchscreen thing that also uses wireless to talk to the Vault. You use it to control the system and to select what you want to download. The controller is apparently fanless, and has some internal memory which allows it to be used as some sort of media player in its own right even if removed from the rest of the system.
Interesting, but at this point its all 100% vaporware. The hardware seems to be fairly realistic, although it was non-functional mockups at CES, but its the distribution system that seems like the least likely part of the system to pull off. They claim to be preparing to begin a beta test in AU this year, and promised to keep in touch if it makes it to north america.