$500 Internet TV

Recovered from Archive.org – Apr 3, 1997

There has been a lot of news lately prophesizing the coming of the all-powerful, all-knowing, omnipotent $500 internet box. These internet boxes will be multimedia powered terminals that give the internet a friendlier and certainly cheaper face. The question is, will the public go for it?

Predictions…oh predictions. This is a tough one.

On the one hand, the price is right. 500 bucks certainly makes alot of excuses go away. Many people will see this as the opportunity to finally get online despite the dismal balance in their checking account. This box would most likely be upgraded to an ethernet type of connection once broadband becomes available. (Any day now…month…year…tap tap tap…)

On the other hand, what are we talking about here? Is it a PC or is it a TV? Or is it both? The internet has become one of the best ways to distribute software. There are dozens of different newsgroup readers, slews of mpeg players, plethoras of multimedia plugins, gaggles of themes for Windows 95, schools of thought…or is that fish? Ok, now I’m mixing metaphors.

The point is: These internet boxes lack a hard drive. You can’t download software you like and keep it for a while. You can’t pick the utilities you like and store them locally. Prediction: (Finally.)

  • Internet browsers will get larger and more powerful. Big Bill Gates predicted in New York at the Internet Commerce Expo that eventually the browser will become the operating system.
  • The browser/operating system will start to appear in 1997 from Microsoft, SONY and Oracle.
  • Internet boxes will appear and merge with the TV market before the turn of the millenia.
  • PC’s will still be the work horse of choice for the home/office for the forseeable future.
  • A V-chip will be included in the internet box; thank you Mr. Telecommunications bill.

The problem I see with the web box is the lack of control over the system. PC’s are completely customizable with every kind of software and hardware you want all for the individual to choose. These internet boxes are TV’s that view the web. You get to change the channel but nothing else.

Prediction is: (Nutshell version) Internet boxes will threaten/expand the TV market, NOT the PC market.


Whatya think?