Digital pros talk challenges at confab

'It's hard to make it easy to use,' says exec at set-top box firm

A marketing executive participating in Digital Media Pipeline '10 neatly summed up why 100 industry professionals trooped to a hilltop in West Los Angeles on Wednesday for the annual symposium on digital consumer entertainment.

"It's hard to make it easy to use," said Brent Collins of D-Link, one of several set-top box companies presenting at the tech-heavy confab at the Skirball Center.

Most of those on hand came to discuss the digital delivery of video and music from studios and other suppliers and the related question of how to get such content from computers to TV sets. The endless technical challenges that continue to bedevil those efforts filled daylong topic discussions of such potentially mind-numbing but undeniably important areas as asset and database management, supply-chain management and authoring and encoding.

The symposium was presented by the Entertainment Merchants Assn., whose membership includes packaged-media companies and digital vendors. The trade group also handed out awards at an evening reception to spotlight notable strides in digital delivery during the past 12 months.

Netflix copped a Digi Award as standout Internet-based retailer, E1 Entertainment was lauded for successfully marketing the "Ink" series on digital channels, and Apple Computer's iPad was cited for product innovation.

"The impetus for increased growth in digital entertainment will come to a great degree from outstanding technology, outstanding content and outstanding retailers," EMA chief Bo Andersen said. "The recipients of this year's awards represent the best in class in their respective categories. They are leading the way."