Industry experts keep saying that in the battle for the interactive future, the TV will come out on top. Yet desktop computers, laptops, and mobile devices seem to be consistently winning the battle for eyeballs.
This idea of putting the Internet on TV has been around for a while. I went back into the Monitor archives and found several articles about how the marriage of the TV and the Internet was inevitable.
For example, Monitor writer Laurent Belsie wrote in 1996 that “in the next few years, someone is going to marry the action of television with the data of the Internet in such a compelling way that consumers will flock to see it. A new medium will be born.”
The first idea was WebTV, a box that cost about $300, with a monthly subscription fee of $20. It was not intertwined with TV programming. It basically was a way to access the Web. In 1997, Microsoft bought it for about $450 million, and it went nowhere. Ultimately, its biggest market was seniors, who found it easier to read than a computer screen.
Attitude toward the Internet on the tube tempered a bit after that, but we were still hearing about “the revolution” in 2000. In another Monitor article, Harry Brunius wrote: “so far, attempts by the high-tech industry to make TV even more the center of American life – with games, online shopping, and e-mail – have been met with all the avid interest generally shown to cooking infomercials.
“That may be about to change. Later this month, America Online will launch AOLTV, its version of interactive television. With its online community of 22.5 million members and its pending merger with TimeWarner, AOL could become one of the first to bring the new era of digital television to a broad audience.”