Saturday, June 07, 2008

Microsoft foresees the end of media

There was an interview in the Washington Post with Steve Ballmer of Microsoft; interesting and not very long, so I suggest you read it all. The part I want to comment on was this exchange:

What is your outlook for the future of media?

In the next 10 years, the whole world of media, communications and advertising are going to be turned upside down -- my opinion.

Here are the premises I have. Number one, there will be no media consumption left in 10 years that is not delivered over an IP network. There will be no newspapers, no magazines that are delivered in paper form. Everything gets delivered in an electronic form.

10 years?

Yeah. If it's 14 or if it's 8, it's immaterial to my fundamental point. . . . If we want TV to be more interactive, you'll deliver it over an IP network. I mean, it's sort of funny today. My son will stay up all night basically playing Xbox Live with friends that are in various parts of the world, and yet I can't sit there in front of the TV and have the same kind of a social interaction around my favorite basketball game or golf match. It's just because one of these things is delivered over an IP network and the other is not. . . .

Also in the world of 10 years from now, there are going to be far more producers of content than exist today. We've already started to see that certainly in the online world, but we've just scratched the surface. . . . I always take my favorite case: I grew up in Detroit. I went to a place called Detroit Country Day School. They've got a great basketball team. Why can't I sit in front of my television and watch the Country Day basketball game when I know darn well it's being video-recorded at all times? It's there. It's just not easy to navigate to.

A couple points:

Ballmer may be behind a bit on the last item (or perhaps it's just Detroit Country Day that's behind). Last fall, my alma mater (Brophy Prep, in Phoenix) made it to the state football championship game, and I was delighted to find that I could watch the game on the web (we won -- Go, Broncos!) But his point is still valid: to equal the Xbox experience, I should have been able to interact with other alums during the game. I'll bet that will be happening before long.

This sort of programming will open up huge opportunities for niche content providers, as he says.

His other important point -- that all media will be delivered via IP in ten (or so) years is also right, I think, as long as "all" is taken not totally literally. My guess is that there will be a residual market for people who demand print content. Because this will be expensive, it will be a premium market for advertisers.


Bryan Larkin said...


Interesting topic. Through the world of the Internet, I can watch basketball games from my college (University of Virginia) while communicating with other alumni and fans via a separate fan site. If the two were combined, it would make life much easier.


Bob Houk said...

And if the two were combined, it would probably give the provider a better advertising opportunity.

An interesting example of how our expectations rise: Ballmer would be happy with what I had (access to the game); I wanted what you have (interaction with other fans); and you want something more as well.