Bill Gates talks about the end of TV – But it won’t be Microsoft TV

2 min read

Bill GatesBill Gates recently shunned current TV offerings at the World Economic Forum saying that the internet is the future. In Bill’s words:

I’m stunned how people aren’t seeing that with TV, in five years from now, people will laugh at what we’ve had.”

Bill Gates recently appeared on the Daily Show on Comedy Central (video below) and continued to stress that current TV is nothing compared to what the internet will offer.

Microsoft is already well placed in the TV industry offering IPTV middleware, the Xbox Live Marketplace for video downloads to the Xbox 360, and Media Center PCs.

The most exciting development in the works is IPTV on the Xbox 360 which is probably what Bill Gates is actually warming us up for here (without directly mentioning it). But IPTV on the Xbox 360 will actually be very similar to a cable or satellite subscription service and not something that will connect you with the world of internet television.

It will however harness on the capabilities of internet protocol and probably bring community features, video on demand etc. From what Bill Gates said on the Daily Show you will be able to go directly to the content you want, probably using some sort of tagging function. For example, if you had recorded the Olympics you could go directly to the swimming event by searching for the tag swimming.

But let’s be fair how often are keyword tags in videos going to be useful in everyday viewing? As Jon Stewart said on The Daily Show, “TV is passive”.

More TV Content, Higher Quality, More Freedom.

What people really want from a TV service is:

  • Content
  • Content
  • Content
  • To be able to choose when to watch it
  • To be able to choose where to watch it
  • Improved quality of content.

TiVo took the industry by storm because it allowed people to more easily choose when they watch a TV show. Media extenders such as the new Apple TV are getting very popular because they let people choose where they watch TV (within their house), same with the Slingbox. HDTV is also kicking off because it improves the quality of content.

Someone entering the TV market needs to either:

  1. Give people more freedom over when and when they watch the TV and video they have access to already (e.g TiVo, Apple TV, Slingbox) or,
  2. Provide content in higher quality (e.g HDNet) or,
  3. Provide more content (Satellite and Cable).

Microsoft won’t be able to get enough video content

TV Networks are already locked in tight agreements with content owners and it is well recognized that new companies entering the TV market will have a very tough time getting content.

A recent study from Accenture shows that Telecommunication companies that offer broadband and are trying to leverage themselves as an IPTV provider, are extremely worried about acquiring content, in fact that is their biggest fear.

It is for this reason that Microsoft will not become a TV network. Instead it will continue as a providor of middleware software for IPTV services. In fact the Xbox IPTV service only works with a third party IPTV providor that uses the Microsoft IPTV platform. So its not Microsoft TV, its someone other company using Microsoft technology to deliver it to your TV set with an option of using the Xbox 360 as a DVR.

Bill Gates on The Daily Show

The video below shows Bill Gates talking about the release of Vista, and also talking about the Future of TV near the end of the video.