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Gates Proclaims Internet to Revolutionize TV in 5 Years 314

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the for-some-of-us-it-already-has dept.
adamlazz writes "With an explosion of online video content on sites like YouTube and Google Video, Bill Gates believes that the Internet will revoloutionize the television within the next 5 years. 'I'm stunned how people aren't seeing that with TV, in five years from now, people will laugh at what we've had,' Gates told business leaders and politicians at the World Economic Forum. "
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Gates Proclaims Internet to Revolutionize TV in 5 Years

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  • by Mikachu (972457) <jjburkeNO@SPAMhunter.cuny.edu> on Sunday January 28, 2007 @12:09PM (#17790376) Homepage
    ...the blue screen of death on my TV set.
    • by smallfries (601545) on Sunday January 28, 2007 @12:12PM (#17790392) Homepage
      That's probably what people said when Gates proclaimed IPTV in 1990, 1995, 2000 and 2007. That's the great thing about predictions, if you make them often enough they must come true...
      • by moranar (632206) on Sunday January 28, 2007 @01:07PM (#17790794) Homepage Journal

        That's probably what people said when Gates proclaimed IPTV in 1990, 1995, 2000 and 2007. That's the great thing about predictions, if you make them often enough they must come true...

        Y'know, I still don't see flying cars anywhere near. On the other hand, it will be a cold day in Hell before I start paying attention to what Gates has to say about the Internet. His company almost missed it. MSN, hah.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by timeOday (582209)
          The only difference is, video on the Internet has already arrived. Visit cnn.com, there it is. Youtube was maybe the biggest Internet story in 2006. I have a friend who subscribes to a Usenet binaries service instead of Cable TV. Major TV companies have shows for download. iTunes has them too.

          The only major component still lacking is a slick set-top box with Internet integration. But 5 years is a pretty safe guesstimate for that to happen IMHO.

      • by egyptiankarim (765774) on Sunday January 28, 2007 @01:34PM (#17790972) Homepage
        Bill Gates makes a lot of proclamations, and personally I refuse to take anything he says seriously until I get that $100 dollars he promised to give me for sending out that Email to ten of my friends... :P
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        This prediction is particularly stupid because it's not that clever. We already have iTunes and TV shows, streaming devices, and so forth. The revolution is already here. It's odd to see this Gates prediction being reported in the media as if it is groundbreaking or forward-thinking.
    • by littlem (807099) on Sunday January 28, 2007 @01:06PM (#17790778)
      640 channels ought to be enough for anyone...
    • You are quite observant.

      Billy Gates did look a bit blue last time I saw him on the tube.

      With luck he will suffer a BSOD episode, and Microsoft will be free of this nut case, who wouldn't know an innovative pair of vise grips if they bit him on the hand.
    • Forgive me for piggybacking on the top comment, but speaking of Bill Gates and TV, Gates is scheduled to be the guest on tomorrow night's Daily Show. Don't forget to set your TiVos or whatnot.
    • by geobeck (924637) on Sunday January 28, 2007 @03:18PM (#17791670) Homepage

      ...the blue screen of death on my TV set.

      Reminds me of something William Gibson said about the opening line to Neuromancer:

      The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel.

      I don't have an exact quote, but his comment was that a change in the way TV manufacturers dealt with dead channels completely changed the meaning of that sentence.

      I digress; back to your regularly-scheduled comments.

  • TV? Pffft. (Score:5, Funny)

    by gEvil (beta) (945888) on Sunday January 28, 2007 @12:10PM (#17790382)
    Television is just a passing fad... : p
  • by Bullfish (858648) on Sunday January 28, 2007 @12:11PM (#17790388)
    In other predictions... people will still be downloading music and movies... the RIAA will still be crying... most TV shows will still be craps and the most secure version of windows yet will be just around the corner
    • by garcia (6573) on Sunday January 28, 2007 @12:17PM (#17790440) Homepage
      most TV shows will still be craps

      I don't know if you can access CurrentTV, but if you can make sure you sit down and watch a couple of pods. This is what he's talking about when he mentions that it's going to revolutionize TV. Viewer submitted content (that they're paying for) that appears on TV is amazing to watch.

      You get a first hand account of newly reported news items but without the lame over-processed and practiced "Live Eyewitness News Reporter" feel. Some of the shit on CurrentTV blows my mind and some of it is viewer submitted advertising for products that you would have probably never heard about on the mainstream media.

      Now, with archived content available online, we will finally get to see the Tubes be used for part of their potential.
  • I was shocked and amazed to see this video showing how to get in on the googleTV [youtube.com] Beta, but after I did (regardless of how much bullshit the video is full of), I realized just how big a part Google and Microsoft could play in the next few years. It's going to be an interesting time for TV.
  • Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer. (me ducks chair).
    • by Divebus (860563)
      In 5 years we will be still laughing at ...Microsoft for only being a bit player in the progression but still trying to patent everything.
  • by RonBurk (543988) on Sunday January 28, 2007 @12:13PM (#17790406) Homepage Journal
    Has anybody ever collected all Bill's foresights since he became wealthy enough to be presumed prescient? I'm sure they would be entertaining reading when put all together sequentially.

    My prediction is: Bill will tell us that the next version of Windows after Vista is going to be really secure this time.

  • Spam (Score:2, Insightful)

    by jonpublic (676412)
    When did Gates predict that we were going to beat spam?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 28, 2007 @12:15PM (#17790426)
    I've had Microsoft's attempt at whatever they think they're doing for a couple years now. Not only does it fault more, and perform less responsively that what Comcast deployed to their cable boxes before. It has significantly fewer features. Sure it looks prettier, and it has a crappy capability to deliver poorly rendered news blurbs, but it's slow, craps out more, does less. I'm sure that people in the future will laugh at the kind of TV Microsoft delivers to me (in fact I've considered recording hours of it crapping out and malfunctioning then sending it to satellite providers). But me, I'm not laughing. Fucking 120ft trees immediately south of me.
  • ... I reckon it's more likely to be Apple-TV rather than Xbox+extender, or 'media-PC'. MS do a wonderful job in the world of business, but they haven't got a clue when it comes to consumers (witness the 'zune' fiasco).

    Repeat after me: "complexity is the enemy". MS just don't seem to be able to help themselves - they include every possible switch to toggle in their UI's. The consumer wants to turn it on, hit the channel, and watch TV. Reliably. Without expert (IT) help. Anything more than that is a problem y
  • Genius (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Bill is leading the charge again. Where does his vision come from? It's like he can see things that nobody else can. It's lucky thing that google and youtube have him to thank - again.

    • "In the next 10 years, I, William Gates III, will fail to find an appealing hairstyle."

      "Microprocessors will get even faster in the next few years, making today's versions of Windows usable."

      "Steve Ballmer will go bald."

      "My famous book, 'The Road Ahead', will enter a third edition in which the Zune will be predicted."
  • by Speare (84249) on Sunday January 28, 2007 @12:20PM (#17790458) Homepage Journal

    Okay, so Gates hired dozens if not hundreds of developers in the 80s and early 90s who were very familiar with the value of the Internet, yet they missed the bandwagon in incorporating TCP/IP features and protocols until it was already commonplace in the market? And all the while, Gates was smugly declaring that he didn't own a television set and had completely disconnected from the Joe Sixpack culture of sponging in front of a boob tube like the rest of America. Yet, somehow he feels he's adequately informed to see the way that the television culture will shift to an Internet culture in a given timeframe? The only reason that this sounds at all plausible is because Apple and Sony and TiVo and Google and other companies already have been working in that direction. Welcome to the 2000s, Bill.

    • by sootman (158191)
      Gates needs a better dictionary. I won't consider it a revolutionary change until if affects MOST TV's. Yeah, there's lots of cool stuff you can do with an Apple TV, a TiVo, an HTPC, a Myth box, a tuner card, the iTunes Store, YouTube, and all the networks that are posting their shows online after they air. HOWEVER--this still does not affect MOST people. TiVo is the best thing that ever happened to ME, TV-wise, but most people still don't have any kind of DVR. IT'll take 5-10 years for THOSE to become comm
    • by BokLM (550487) *
      Okay, so Gates hired dozens if not hundreds of developers in the 80s and early 90s who were very familiar with the value of the Internet, yet they missed the bandwagon in incorporating TCP/IP features and protocols until it was already commonplace in the market?

      Actually they didn't miss it, they just didn't want it. They would have preffered that everybody use their proprietary network controlled by them, instead of that "internet" that nobody control. Fortunatly it didn't go that way.
  • As a non-US resident, all the good US and UK shows get here with a delay of at least a year. And then there're all the crappy advertisement breaks.

    Screw that, I'm downloading all the TV shows I watch. I get it not 24 hours after it's shown in the US/UK, easily spoiler-free (which is important when it comes to high-profile shows), ads free, and with the added benefit of watching it whenever I choose (no TIVO here) and without issues of missing an episode.

    I've gotten to the point of not watching TV for
    • by moranar (632206)
      I have a similar feeling: I have no TV thanks to the Internet. I use the money I "save" (TV tax is about 100 euros a year here) to buy books, DVDs and videogames. I get my news online, I don't need shows.
      • I used to have some platinum cable package with all the channels. The past few years I have been cutting down channels, now I am down to regular basic cable. And even that, I am thinking about canceling. I find myself infront of the TV only because of my nice couch and maybe discovery/history channel.

        WTF is wrong with TV stations nowadays, is like every show is written by the same person with the same thought process. I am like living on Youtube literally.
    • by Knuckles (8964)
      Not only do we get it at least a year after it's aired in US, we (i) get a version with crappy German overdubs, and (ii) we have an at least 50% chance of the show being canceled mid-season because of crappy programming by the station or idiot fellow countrymen who would rather watch a re-run of Big Brother. Excuse me if I don't use your TV "service".
  • by ettlz (639203) on Sunday January 28, 2007 @12:22PM (#17790466) Journal
    In one Star Trek: The Next Generation episode, Data states that television, as the form of popular entertainment as we know it, did not last much beyond 2040... could this turn out to be remarkably accurate?
    • by kahrytan (913147)
      In Star Trek, many things changed after WW3. Everything changed. Hollywood, TV, Money all went bye bye. Gene Roddenberry had a grand future for humanity. Humans made it their focus to 'better' themselves (from First Contact) instead of acquiring wealth.
  • He's right (Score:5, Interesting)

    by eyeball (17206) on Sunday January 28, 2007 @12:25PM (#17790480) Journal
    Here's exactly how he'll do it: He'll piss off enough people with Windows that they will be driven to Apple, where they will be watching TV shows purchased on iTunes on their iPod, iPhone, computer, or iTV. People will laugh at more than just "what we had..."

    • by alfredo (18243)
      Apple said screw the business market, we will snag them when they go home. Apple will control the entertainment market. TV content will still suck, but its delivery will be "insanely great."
  • SPAMTV! (adds, adds, adds, adds at infinitum)

    Ooops... sorry that's already done. :(

  • by AlHunt (982887)

    'I'm stunned how people aren't seeing that with TV, in five years from now, people will laugh at what we've had,' Gates told business leaders and politicians at the World Economic Forum. "

    Coupe that with this quote:

    There never was a chip, it is said, that Bill Gates couldn't slow down with a new batch of features.
    * James Coates, The Chicago Tribune

    And the future of TV as we know it is bleak indeed.
    Your TV will have to be manufactured by Cray.

  • A lot of people have paid a lot of money for bigscreen TVs. Do you really think they're going to give them up on a whim because Gates says so? There's a ridiculous amount of money in the TV industry right now- you can't block ads on live TV. People wouldn't be happy if their 50" widescreen plasma OMGHDTVOMGDLPOMG is rendered useless.
    TV is here to stay. I'm fine with that. It gives me something to plug my Wii into.
    • The trick to avoiding the whole "HD obsolences" is to make sure you buy into the "other other" HD...720p or skip TV's altogether and go buy that 24"+ sized LCD computer monitor you've always wanted.

      720p HD (1366x768) plays well with both the past and the future and it's more or less the lower limit of screen resolution required to use it with a computer hooked up to it without going through the joys of having to play around to make the text of webpages and programs readable. Sure 1080 looks nice, right up

      • by Runefox (905204)
        The problem with 1080p in video games is that unless the textures are equally stupidly-proportioned, the game's going to look like mud, and the reality is, surprise, surprise, exactly that. Granted, they've been getting around this quite nicely through various post-processing methods and pixel shaders [vgcats.com] that tend to mask the crappy quality of those textures and models, but still, it's a cop-out.

        720p is about as high as a standard 17" computer monitor will go, and to be honest with you, with some anti-aliasing
      • by SnowDog74 (745848)
        If people read your post they might understand that Apple wasn't being stupid when they designed AppleTV with 720p resolution. They wanted a product that wasn't going to be astronomically expensive, and they wanted to get it out the door at a time when 720p downloads were feasible whereas 1080p downloads were not only hellishly impractical but also cutting out the vast majority of HDTV owners.

        There are two reasons for this, and both are tied to the idiosyncrasies of computer-based multimedia formats:

        1. Fil
  • by rbrander (73222)
    Wow. I bet if Bill Gates were to stand on a railroad track and watch a train approaching in the distance for several minutes, he could also conclude that in several minutes more, the train would pass by.

    Any high-school kid could also have 'predicted' this, but I suppose they don't get invites to Davos.

    Why anybody would want the man's predictions after the embarrassment of "The Road Ahead", I don't know. I think it's the only book to predict the next 30 years of IT history ever to have to be re-released j
  • If it's available to the networks, it's available to me on the internet, for free. I'd call that a revolution.
  • Gates Proclaims Internet to Revolutionize TV in 5 Years

    What that "TV" thing he is talking about? Is that thing where you can't select what you watch and is also contaminated by unstoppable stream of commercials??

    P.S. Frankly, I have bought my first TV three month ago (LCD one), but it would be too optimistic to say that I watch it even once per week. Even state-supported channels here in Germany are infested with ads/etc. And finding something decent to watch on TV now is as complicated as it was de

  • This is why you don't see a company like Microsoft doing much that is ground breaking. If you look at Apple's strategy, you get the feeling that they already understood this some time back. The existence and popularity of sites such as YouTube confirms this direction.
  • TV will prevail (Score:5, Insightful)

    by OberonX (115355) on Sunday January 28, 2007 @12:39PM (#17790584) Homepage
    I believe TV, albeit in a different form, will continue to exist for a long time. What a lot people dont seem to realize is that the lack of interaction and choice with TV can be an advantage. The passivity of the watching experience is actually its best selling point, the ability to arrive home tired from work(and likely to have been in front of a computer) and just sit down and watch mindless junk for a couple of hours. TVs role will diminish but I would be doubtful if pre-programmed channels(even if over the internet) will ever disappear.
    • by DavidD_CA (750156)
      Not so with the next generation.

      I feel that the teenagers and young adults that exist now, and certainly the children who will soon become young adults, have a different outlook because they've been "raised" on the internet.

      They know that with a flick of a button they can change to a million other songs, or visit a million other videos on YouTube, and I bet they're frustrated that they only get 1000 channels on their satellite TV.

      Of course, having a million stations is pointless if you don't have a friendly
      • by voidstin (51561)

        I feel that the teenagers and young adults that exist now, and certainly the children who will soon become young adults, have a different outlook because they've been "raised" on the internet.

        I disagree. Most of us were raised by the internet as well (i've been online since i was 8 or 9, and I'm 34), and many of us still like TV. After a tough day, I don't want to sit down in front of youtube with a beer. You can't fall asleep at your desk, or even with a keyboard in your lap.

        There will always be a plac

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by gad_zuki! (70830)
      >The passivity of the watching experience is actually its best selling point

      Exactly. Too many geeks and 'futurists' think everything will be like the current incarnation of the web and email because these things are currently popular. All these cries of 'interactivity' is just silly. People like relaxing, sitting down, and watching a story unfold. If they didnt we'd all be reading Choose Your Own Adventure books nowaways and movies would have a special remote to vote on what happens next. The technol
  • by BoRegardless (721219) on Sunday January 28, 2007 @12:46PM (#17790632)
    Gates lucked into an OS deal where he wheedled and dealed and even tried to shut out a partner.

    Then he tucked together pieces he plucked to form Office, where creative MS programmers put it all together.

    But then listen to all the BS that came out of BG since and between Cairo, ME & CE, etc & the constant use of similar adjectives used to describe the next MS product or version, and what floats high on the surface of the water?

    "S--t", thats what.

    Why does ANYONE take this guy seriously? At this point all he is, is a rich philanthropist!

    Sheesh.
    • by Aladrin (926209)
      Because he's the richest philanthropist in the world and there seems to be no sign of this changing for the worse. Luck or not, he took a nothing company to biggest-in-the-world and has kept it there. It would take a HELL of a lot of luck to do that by luck alone. The man's not an idiot, no matter what you might think.
      • by BoRegardless (721219) on Sunday January 28, 2007 @01:28PM (#17790932)
        I never said he is an idiot. I also think BG & SB have kept MS on top by the sweat of a lot of programmers & not BG & SB's hard work (unless you call bullying work).

        Bill Gates does NOT have a track record of coming up with innovative, cutting edge, next gen products. In fact, he doesn't have a good track record coming up with better products others already have done, & shall we go through them?

        1. Zune...rhymes with doom, and it is not a game
        2. IE...still going downhill after giving us malware-virus heaven
        3. CE...mobile world does not know it exists
        4. Cairo-Longhorn...time moves on, with less features
        5. Media Center PCs...oohh a geek's delight
        6. MS's Search...Uhhh Bill is too busy to use Google, and his secretary finds what he needs on his hard drive

        Bill Gates and "The Chair" Ballmer are strictly into techniques designed to lock their OS & Office monopoly down tighter.

        I seriously doubt Bill gates is even interested in TV personally...and that is probably an indication of how little Microsoft will do in that arena.

        The only thing that will stand a chance of allowing shareholder value growth is breaking Microsoft up into pieces and letting all the brainpower in each division go wild in search of new products, because Bill & Steve are not going to do it.
  • Here Gates goes again, talking to clueless business persons as if he's got a crystal ball or something. There has already been a good amount of debate on if HD DVDs will really take off or if downloaded content will make the new DVD format far less 'interesting' than its predesessor, STD DVD. The debate tends to be short lived since the conclusion is obvious. But, the timeframe might be up for debate.

    So there's really nothing here except THE modern-day snake oil salesman is at it again. IMO

    LoB

  • If it turns into something thet's merely a different delivery method, with the same small number of people that currently control 90% of the content, it's not a revolution - it's merely a medium shift. Youtube got *started* on a revolutionary path, but now that it's getting deeper into bed with commercial interests, and even offering to pay members for their content, it will eventually become the same thing all over again - just a different method of delivery.
  • This from the man that called the Internet a passing fad? Glad he's finally jumped on the band wagon after 15 years. Oh, even better he's leading that band wagon.... we're doomed.
  • I'm Ready for IPTV (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Paulrothrock (685079) on Sunday January 28, 2007 @01:04PM (#17790768) Homepage Journal

    I already do the 'IPTV' thing with a couple BBC programs. And the only reason I'm not paying for them is because they're not available on iTunes in the US, and my wife is completely addicted to Torchwood and Dr. Who. My Powerbook and iPod dock both support S-Video out, so hooking them up to my TV is trivial. An AppleTV (and a faster Mac for converting from DiVX to MPEG) would make it even easier.

    The only problem I've run into, and this is recently, is that BitTorrent consumes a lot of upstream bandwidth so people I call with Vonage sometimes get choppy audio on their end. I worked around this by doing some QoS filtering in my router and writing a couple shell scripts to turn Torrents on and off on my Mac Mini home server. A better broadband connection, with >1Mbps upstream, would allow me to use BitTorrent all the time.

    Really, the only reason I even have cable is because it costs just as much to get cable broadband with cable TV as it does without. If I could get fiber or DSL at similar speeds with no server restrictions (as in, port 22, 5600 and an http port open) I would probably drop cable altogether and get all my media and phone service over the internet.

    I think monthly fees are ludicrous, and refuse to pay them if there's an alternative. I'd rather use the iTunes model: Pay $2 for an episode or get a season pass for a discount of, say, $30 for a 26 episode season. That way I can check out new shows for cheap and get the shows I like for less. And, even better, without commercials. And my money could go directly to the group producing the show, not through a network of middlemen all taking their cut. If a show's cheap enough to produce, as few as 10,000 people, scattered across the globe, could keep episodes being aired.

  • Thank you, Bill, for that Blinding Glimpse of the Obvious., Or, to quote the illustrious philosopher Ren Høek, "Stimpy, I'm completely astounded by your wealth of ignorance."

    It's amazing that this guy is the richest man on Earth. Here he is, offering punditry that is, really, at the very least five years behind Apple in terms of his thought patterns on technology. As early as 1996, the writing was on the wall when Progressive Networks (now RealNetworks, Inc.) and Apple were developing multimedia str
  • by dgr73 (1055610) on Sunday January 28, 2007 @01:06PM (#17790780)
    "and the Oscar for best picture goes to.." *BZZZTTTTT* -Your TV is not up to date. Would you like to update now? NO! -Would you like to be reminded to update later? Yes yes.. -Your Antivirus is not turned on, would you like to switch on your ant.. NO! GOD! -You have unwatched channels in your TV, click here to have unwatched channels removed from your channel listing OH FOR CHRISSAKE! *Enter crappy looking paperclip* -Hi, i'm TVBuddy! I see you've stopped viewing your program to do maintenance, so I took the liberty of saving the place for you. To continue viewing where you left off, press CTRL+WIN+TV+7+D, to just view in realtime press TV, to go off on a wild goose chase, click HELP. Finally some good news, yes! CTRL+WIN..... -TVKRNL.DLL has experienced a Fatal error, please contact your IT support with error details found in tvcrash.dmp *Windows box flies out of the window*
    • M$uck (Score:3, Insightful)

      by umbrellasd (876984)
      This does a credible job of summarizing how I feel about M$ and their products. TV is awful (haven't watched it for more than a few minutes in 15 years). I am sometimes the unfortunate victim of housemates and whatnot and I can say that TV is the most irritating experience ever once you become accustomed to receiving information that you asked for only when you ask for it (search/video rental/library/bookstore). Cell phones are like this, too. "Would you like to connect to Media.NET and spend lots of mo
  • Well, duh... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by QuietLagoon (813062) on Sunday January 28, 2007 @01:06PM (#17790786)
    I guess Gates has been so wrong in his previous predictions that now he is swinging for that easy high-lob pitch, hoping to be right for once.

    The Internet is going to revolutionize everything in five years. Again. Every five years. And again.

    What's the story here? That Gates has little more to do than repeat the obvious?

  • I probably have slashdot posts to prove it. I emailed Google that I wanted a job and that video was the next big thing on the net. They don't hire me, but they aquire YouTube. When I meant its the next big thing, I meant it to be more of an ON DEMAND sort of thing. You click on what tv show/movie you want to watch and its streamed to your computer and even possibly via a TV out to your TV. Theres no doubt in my mind that people will be linking their computers into their TVS to watch ON DEMAND shows strea
  • by ofcourseyouare (965770) * on Sunday January 28, 2007 @01:50PM (#17791080)
    What Gates didn't say is that one of the most important devices to bring about this change in viewing habits is going to be Apple TV. I would imagine that Jobs would agree with most of what Gates says in TFA.

    IMHO online delivery will obviously have a huge effect on video watching habits: 5 years? 10? It'll vary depending on how much of an early adopter you are (or your country is), but it'll come for sure.

    BT Vision, recently launched in the UK, has a quite interesting hybrid model, where one interface gives you access to digital broadcasting-through-the-air (for watching news, sports, etc) as well as to VoD and the stuff you've got on your PVR. Could solve a lot of the obvious issues around live broadcasts watched by millions crashing IP networks.

    Moving on slightly -- the interesting question, I think, is whether it will change the nature of film and TV: i.e. is digital, networked video just a distribution method, or is it a new medium.

    A further quote from BG, from a conference a couple of years ago...

    Bill Gates: "the difference between watching TV or film and playing a video game won't be the black and white difference that it is today; soon, there will be a spectrum of shades of grey".

    Now before you write this off, note the following from Peter Jackson about six months ago...

    Peter Jackson: "what's interesting is...conveying stories using (digital) technology which will allow an interactive component - but they're not movies and they're not games... there should be another form of entertainment... what's interesting is the crossover"

    And Guillermo del Toro (director of "Blade II" and the amazing "Pan's Labyrinth"): "in the next 10 years, narrative media will shift to a hybrid of video games and movies"..."like the shift from silent movies to talkies; some movie people will be able to make the jump, but many won't."

    There's a possible parallel with the development of film: in the early days, some filmmakers thought film was basically like theatre: so in their movies, the camera didn't move, the scenery was theatrical flats, the actor's whole body was shown, there were few cuts. With time, people realised film wasn't a distribution medium for theatre -- it was a whole new medium. And with it came close-ups, moving cameras, outdoor locations, etc.

    IMHO we're at a similar stage now, where people are starting to see that broadband (and possibly digital cinema, later) is not just a distribution method for traditional linear film and video, it's a whole new medium with its own unique characteristics. Like any medium, it rewards those who understand and work with its characteristics.

    This does NOT mean naive (and doomed) movies where you "choose-the-ending". In broadband, it means creating pieces where, within the limits of the technology, you can converse with stars, explore artworks, listen to talks customised to your interests and level of knowledge, play beach volleyball, etc. There are a number of interactive video pieces online demonstrating that this sort of thing works.

    What Gates and Jobs see as the future of video devices is just the beginning of opening up the creative possiblities of video with interactivity.
    • by cowscows (103644)
      I guess the issue at hand is really how you define "TV". Is there a difference between watching "television" and watching something on the TV screen? When I'm playing Nintendo, I'm using the TV as a display, but I wouldn't say I'm watching television. If you wire up your living room so that your computer displays YouTube videos on your TV, I wouldn't say you're watching television, I'd say you're just using the TV as a monitor. I guess I define television as basically non-interactive, scheduled programmin
      • Good point -- I agree the normal use of the term "television" is to mean non-interactive broadcast content, and what I was talking about above was live-action video delivered interactively, which is not what most people mean by "TV".

        However, we're probably going to need some new flexibility in terms. Because there are going to be at least three basic flavours of digital screen...
        * PC
        * TV
        * digital Cinema
        ...which, as time goes by, will overlap technically ever more. But IMHO there will still be huge di
  • I can't wait until I can get pr0n, spam and viruses over the TV, just like on a PC. I can't wait until I have to constantly upgrade my TV, requiring more power and producing more heat, every few years so I can continue to watch programs.

    What a brave new world!
  • 'I'm stunned how people aren't seeing that with TV, in five years from now, people will laugh at what we've had,' Gates told business leaders and politicians at the World Economic Forum.

    "Five years from now?"

    Hell, people are laughing at what we've got right now, right now!

    -kgj
  • Even the mainstream doesn't buy the "Visionary" crap anymore, so why persist? Let's check: He's failed with every major prediction he made. His books had to be revised several times to catch up with the facts, and that's in addition to being almost certainly being written by ghostwriters.

    MS is the WalMart of computing: Zero innovation, but they sell to the mainstream and are so big that they crowd out others.

    Really, why? Has he entered the spheree of the powerful who are so removed from reality that they co
  • Hey Bill, you also promised that the spam problem would be solved by the end of 2006. How about you live up to your old promises first, before making new ones? Or is this just a cheap stunt to draw attention away from the fact that quite contrary to your "prediction", spam is worse then ever before?

    So, how about the end of spam? How about living up to your words, just this once?
  • Honestly, I think Gates takes advantage of the fact that people look to him to foretell the future. The futures he predicts are those that are the most equitable to Microsoft's vision of the future of tech.

    "Nobody will ever need more than 640k RAM"

    "The Internet? We are not interested in it"

    "Two years from now spam will be solved."

    If you want to listen to a real soothsayer of tech read to Cingely.
  • by ScrewMaster (602015) on Sunday January 28, 2007 @02:41PM (#17791416)
    The Internet changed the face of television the instant Bram Cohen released the Bit Torrent protocol. Every TV show is available for download, usually within a day or so of initial broadcast, and usually have the commercials stripped out. Besides, if Comcast and the other big boys released an open PVR with swarming capabilities at a reasonable price, bandwidth issues would probably disappear since all that video would stay on their own backbone and they wouldn't be paying peering charges for it.
  • by geoff lane (93738) on Sunday January 28, 2007 @04:32PM (#17792176)
    Every experimental "interactive" tv service has failed despite being wildly popular with the participants for the first few weeks. After that interest fails. Much of the time people want animated wallpaper not something that has to be attended to at regular intervals like a demanding pet.
  • by Almost-Retired (637760) on Sunday January 28, 2007 @04:41PM (#17792268)
    I'm an almost retired broadcast engineer with over 40 years in the field.

    For most of these years, our biggest expense after payroll and related expenses is the power bill. We have, by way of charging the seller to advertise his product, called a commercial, been able to survive, and even pay our better employees fairly well.

    To bring enough bandwidth into being to do this for all the broadcasters, and there are around 800 of us, sufficient bandwidth buildout will be a major expense, and will of course be charged for accordingly.

    Our power bills range from say $5k/mo for a vhf operation, going up to maybe $10k for a full power digital running in parallel, and back to maybe $7k/mo once ntsc is turned off in 2009. For UHF broadcasters, multiply those figures by about 3x.

    We would need up to 30MB/sec per channel transmitted this way in full HD, and at todays charges for bandwidth, would make our power bill look like pocket change. That of course is a CODB.

    Now, while its going to be technically feasable at some point in the future, I detest people who are only passing fans of a dog in this fight, with little of their own money invested yet, making predictions as to when this will happen.

    There are all sorts of regulatory hurdles to contend with, starting with the market access exclusivity that the designated ADM's the FCC has setup, preventing to a large degree, access to our local market by outside stations. I personally am a bit ambiguous about that, but it goes a long way toward keeping our broadcast material flavored with the local area culture, and this is a Good Thing(TM), while at the same time effectively keeping ABC/CBS/NBC/FOX/WTBS/KTLA's time peddlers from walking the streets in our market and effectively stealing our income.

    OTOH, folks would like to be able to grab the network signals without all those local commercials and the clamor for exactly that is being heard about the land and in our governments reactions to that in the form of the SHVA acts. But, stop and think about the downside to that too if there were no SHVA. If CBS, whom we are an affiliate of, were to be allowed free access to 'our' market, a couple of things would happen, one because of their networks construction, they would have the power to hit several differnt locales around the country with commercials taylored to that locale and they do that right now, sending a dog food commercial to the deep south and a toothpaste commercial to the west coast, etc etc. They would have to do that because there is not enough time to do all of what they could sell if they used our rate card unless they could resell that time slot several times. They'll have to use our rate card or lose the sale as in this market there is no one that could afford a :30 in a bowl game at their current rates. And inevitably, the ratio of editorial to commercial time would become even more commercial at the expense of editorial allthough this is supposed to be regulated by the FCC. Insert laugh track here...

    The other thing is that because we could not realisticly compete in that un-limited access scenario, we would have no choice but to fold our tents and go away, leaving maybe 10 super powerfull 'stations', all of which will be at the governments mercy and be fed pablum for news and we would then be no better off than the russian people were at the height of Stalins power. You could be summarily shot if found in possession of a radio capale of picking up the VOA broadcasts.

    Because there are now many of us, maybe as much as a third with full time 10 or more employee news departments, supporting in our own case over 3 hours of local news a day, we can shine a lot of sunshine on things that aren't always as they seem, and we make it a point to do just that. If one of our reporters is denied access to a city council meeting, its on the 11 oclock news because its a blatant violation of the sunshine laws here in WV. Yes, that local news is a cash cow to us, but still, where would this co
  • Is it the same guy who didn't see Internet coming? Are we talking about the same bill Gates that didn't see the iPod taking over the DAP market? The same one who didn't see Search and online services becoming important?

    Wny TF would anyone even listen to this guy anymore?
  • by bfwebster (90513) on Sunday January 28, 2007 @06:04PM (#17793016) Homepage
    The three major innovations that have transformed broadcast TV in the last several years are: (1) PVRs; (2) DVD sets of TV series; (3) iTunes. There are very few first-run TV shows that I watch in real-time broadcast anymore, and not many that I keep up with during the season (such as it is).

    We have a couple of Panasonic PVRs (one with an 80GB hard drive and ethernet port) for standard time-shifting and protection in case of interruption, but I even use those less and less. Typically what I have done is watch the first few episodes of the season, then once I get behind, I simply wait for the DVD set to come out at season's end.

    However, even that is now shifting to buying episodes from iTunes -- and that's the real innovation. And now that my wife has a 30" cinema display on her Mac, it's not as though there's any real loss of quality. And, as with the DVDs, it's so nice not to have to even use the 'CM SKIP' button to jump over commercials.

    I'm less convinced about the future of streaming video over the internet. We already have streaming video into homes: it's called cable and satellite. They have the bandwidth. The internet, as yet, does not, particularly at the final mile. While I'm a Netflix subscriber and fan, I haven't tried their streaming video service yet, and probably won't; if there's a movie I want to watch that badly, I'll order the DVD from Netflix (or simply buy a copy) and watch it on my living room TV.

    The major innovation I'm waiting for is for a series to be financed in part or all by advance subscriptions. For example, suppose that SciFi decides not to pick up Battlestar Galactica for a fourth season. Then suppose that the production company offers to create a fourth season if enough people subscribe in advance, each paying, say, the combined cost of an iTunes 'season pass' and a complete DVD set. Those funds are held in escrow until the necessary amount is reached, and then the season goes into production. All subscribers get a season pass, a DVD set, and their names listed as 'associate producer' in a special credits feature on the DVD set. The production company could throw in some other perk as well; e.g., each subscriber gets a pass for two people to an end-of-season wrap party (yeah, it's a big party, but so what?). The next step would be for a production company to do this for a brand-new series and bypass broadcast TV altogether.

    There was a brief, unsuccessful (and unauthorized) effort to resurrect Firefly this way, but that was pre-iTunes TV.

    I think that within a few years, iTunes (and its competitors...does it have any competitors?...) will be selling first-run episodic video content of quality matching current TV shows but not appearing on TV (or only appearing after a delay -- sort of the reverse of what happens now, where a given TV episode becomes available on iTunes a day or two after initial broadcast). However, even that will require some bandwidth enhancements along the way; right now, with a solid broadband connection, it can take anywhere from 45 to 90 minutes to download an 'hour-long' (typically 43-minute) episode. If iTunes is releasing first-run content on a weekly basis, then we can expect massive download spikes each time that occurs.

    So, as per my title: if Bill Gates is just now saying that "internet will transform TV within 5 years", he's merely making an obvious statement rather than a perceptive or unexpected prediction. The net is already transforming TV. ..bruce..

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