Thursday, January 17, 2008

The TV and the Computer

The fight for the digital living room continues. Apple TV, the XBox 360, Microsoft's Home Server, and the set top box all compete to provide multimedia services to the family.

This is horribly wrong. I just can't see the value in having a whirring black box control center in the living room - it's a single point of failure, it's a closed solution (since everything else must plug into it), it's a bottleneck against content on the web, and it forces Dad to play system administrator!

As William Gibson said, "the future is already here, it's just not uniformly distributed". Look at the iMac. Take away the keyboard and mouse, and what does it look like? A TV.

Now imagine it only has one application - the browser - and that it boots up in 2 seconds, like an iPod. Your Flickr photos, Amazon Music and BBC iPlayer programmes are now available, on demand, from the web. You can purchase another TV, put it in the kitchen, and access the same websites - there's no need for a central controller or set top box.

For the remote control, all you need is a wireless mouse! Instead of pressing channel numbers, you navigate between your browser favourites. You can type a new URL or search query using a simple onscreen popup keyboard (unless you really want to connect a full wireless keyboard)

All this is surely feasible today. How much extra would it really cost to include a stripped down Linux OS with Firefox on a $1500 widescreen TV?

The future is putting browsers in TVs. I really don't think that even Apple and Microsoft will be able to stop it.

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