Kim Garretson: Companies to watch at CES '09

Here are some of the companies I am expecting to announce news at CES, either joint ventures with bigger companies and/or new investors.

Blip, the 'Twitter' of music:

Blip is addictive. Think of a music track, search it at Blip, write a mini-review, and voilà, there is your review and a link for Blip viewer and your friends to listen to that track. Like Twitter, the posts and links come fast, so the Blip player running in your browser lets you sample track after track. You even can be your own DJ by posting and reviewing a bunch of tracks.

Zip Express, disrupting the retail consumer electronics installation industry:
With the rapid market expansion of large flat panel televisions consumers are grappling with the difficulty of installing these bulky and heavy units on their walls, while concealing the cables and cords. Only a couple of the mass retailers offer installation services, leaving the majority of buyers searching for solutions. Zip Express is the only independent services company offering next day installation of flat panels via its access to a national network of independent contractors.

LikeMe, a personalized recommendation engine:

LikeMe, emerging from private beta in mid-July, is a next generation recommendation engine for leisure destinations and activities.

Ambient Content, a new media genre for the idle screen:

With so many large flat panel TVs dominating home walls, many homeowners face a new dilemma: how to conceal the ugly flat black expanse of the TVs when they are off. Ambient Content has created a new category of content to solve this problem. It is content that does not demand a viewer’s attention, but instead adds a unique ambience to a room. It is moving art, and can be played with or without its musical tracks. Ambient Content has patented a technology to turn any existing video content into ambient content.

Avega Systems, audiophile wireless speakers:

The venture-backed Australian company Avega created the first technology to solve a problem that largest technology companies had failed to solve: delivering audiophile quality sound to wireless devices via Wi-Fi.

BeWiki, personal information retrieval as an advancement over RSS:

BeWiki is a stealth personalized information discovery utility company founded by Jeff O’Dell, the founder and CEO of August Technologies, a public semi-conductor testing services company. President Doug Baker has built and secured VC funding for several disruptive companies. BeWiki technology platform will shift the power of discovery to the user versus today’s search companies which deliver natural and paid search results based on its advertisers and on companies that can optimize search results for their own commercial interests.

CatchMedia, buy a shiny disk, get a digital copy:

The Israeli company CatchMedia has developed a technology that offers consumers who buy physical media, music CDs and DVDs, at mass retailers to automatically also get digital copies of the same content for any devices, without any effort and with the digital copy instantly available upon purchase of the physical media product.

Backstage Gallery, filling the gap between cheap posters and over-priced art gallery pieces for rock photos:

Backstage Gallery has aggregated a digital library of one million images of 2,400 music artists and bands from the 50s to current. The company is the first to honor local freelance photographers who chronicled the history of live rock, jazz, blues, country, etc. in the US. The business model is disrupt the rock photo art gallery market by selling art at up to ten times less in price for equal quality. In addition, the company is pioneering new formats of digital mini-documentaries for social media and music JV partners.

Numobiq, personalized mobile digital lifestyles:

Numobiq delivers the next generation of personalized mobile content via its platform, offered by the top mobile retailers in the industry.

Magnify, video discovery for every blogger & publisher:

Magnify, founded by Realist Advisor Steve Rosenbaum, is the next-gen YouTube. With the Magnify platform, any blogger or Web site publisher can set up their own You-Tube-like video channel at their site in minutes, and Magnify will automatically search the Web for relevant videos to fill the channel.

Wize, the 'intention' shopping engine:, funded by Silicon Valley VCs Bessemer and Mayfield, has recently launched a new version. Wize is the Web's only shopping service whose patented algorithm is based on discovering the intentions of shoppers for how they want to use items, rather than simply features, specs and price.

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