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Blogging CES 2008

Cigarette smoke and air freshener. Those are the two dominant odors here in Las Vegas. Each hotel/casino has its own scent: sickly sweet at the Hilton; slightly floral at the Venetian. Thank God for the fresh air and sunlight on the walk between the Hilton and the Convention Center.

The CES is, yes, very big, and I’m just one man. I caught Jerry Yang’s presentation of Yahoo!’s new mobile interface, Yahoo! Go 3.0. Yang, who was tapped to head Yahoo! after Terry Semel’s departure, co-founded the Web portal 13 years, and joked about how "the new face of Yahoo!" was really an old one. 

But in unveiling Go 3.0, which allows developers and advertisers to design widgets for users to add to and personalize their mobile browsers, he hearkened back to the company’s original aim more than a decade ago: to be the starting point that simplifies and helps users negotiate the great expanse of the Web.

Variety President/Publisher Charlie Koones led a panel with four digital content chiefs about online video: Paramount’s Tom Lesinski; Fox’s Dan Fawcett; Disney-ABC’s Albert Cheng; and Thomas Gwecke, the newly minted head of Warner Bros. Digital Distribution.

The session was notable for the conspicuous absence of any reference to the writers’ strike, which hinges largely on writers’ demand for a greater share of digital revenue. Lesinski took some ribbing for his studio’s big online release last fall: Jackass 2.5. Cheng voiced his familiar belief in the importance of maintaining Disney-ABC’s brand integrity wherever its content appears, on or through distribution partners like iTunes. Fawcett plugged the still nascent News Corp.-NBC Universal service, Hulu.

The final question in the Q&A period proved a fitting capper: When do you expect revenue from digital video to overtake that from broadcast or cable? Best response: "Before I retire," said Cheng.