Last year, venture capitalists invested over half a billion dollars into digital consumer technologies with most of that investment focused on the home (source VentureOne, a VC research group). Intel has invested somewhere over a quarter billion dollars on the digital home. Microsoft is also investing heavily in this area.
The consumer market is driving growth. People are moving beyond the PC and buying better TV sets, digital video recorders, iPods and other devices and hooking them up in the home. And yet there are no standards for basic interoperability at the software level. My own home theatre setup is so complicated that I had to purchase a sophisticated programmable universal remote to try and tame the complexity of the system. And, despite my best efforts, the environment is still too cumbersome to operate.
Bill Gates is looking to solve that problem. This article suggests that he has some work to do. And, Bill, forget about chasing the iPod. That iRiver thing just looks hideous.