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Family Room PC? Or PC Content?

Boot Camp feature for Tuesday, February 3, 2004

A PC in the family room... or just PC content? Bloomberg Boot Camp, a report on today's technology. Computer and consumer electronics companies have been busy creating ways to bring digital music, photos and video into the room where you gather to watch TV and listen to the stereo. Gateway is among the companies betting there's a market for media center PCs. Its latest model, the FMC 901X, is a computer with lots of horsepower... that can record TV shows... burn them to DVDs... and can plug right into big flat screen or standard TVs. Gateway pioneered the idea of a family room PC years ago with its Destination line... without much success. With wireless networking and the explosion of digital music and photography... pared with the Media Center edition of Windows XP, the time may now be right. But at Real Networks, CEO Rob Glaser thinks Microsoft's Media Center approach will flop... with consumers opting to buy simpler boxes to bring in digital content...

"The specialized things that Microsoft's done, like they had this specialized walk around display called Mira that they just canceled... they've had these handwriting PCs that haven't been very successful. I put the Media Center PC in that category."

Glaser's once dominant Real Player is being challenged by Microsoft's Windows Media Player. Late last year RealNetworks filed an antitrust suit against Microsoft seeking a billion dollars in damages. Bloomberg Boot Camp, I'm Fred Fishkin.