Getting it Right, Getting it Wrong (Plus Star Trek!)
I last attended a CES show in 1997 or 1998. CES is the grand-daddy of consumer electronics shows, where each January the brightest gather in Las Vegas to unveil their most innovative gadgets and applications.
The great buzz of the show that year was the convergence of the Internet and television, and if I remember correctly (never a sure thing) the must-see introduction was Web TV. There was a quibble over whether the debut might be a tad premature. By the end of 1998, according to a 2001 study by the University of Nebraska, only 26% of U.S. households had Internet access.
No matter. What almost everyone seemed to agree on was the idea that Internet and television were made for each other. One day, as we watched our favorite TV shows, we could use our remotes to click on the furniture in the Friends apartment, locate the nearest neighborhood retailer that had it in stock and place an order without taking a break from the program. One day we could watch a commercial for Disney World and use our remotes to book a vacation before the commercial ended. One day, we could watch a news report, and as the story was unfolding, use our Internet TV to research further aspects of the story.
That day may still lie in our future. But what occurred to me recently was both how right and how wrong those predictions turned to be. The Internet and television have mashed up. But instead of the Internet flowing to the TV, it is TV flowing into the Internet. And together both are flowing into iPods, cell phones and other hand-held devices.
Now, if we could just get the Internet into some sheets and towels!
Finally, as promised, Star Trek (click on the image below):