The world leader in software, Microsoft, has found a new way to realize its full economic potential: Internet Protocol Television (IPTV). At the IBC 2008 (the International Broadcasting Conference 2008 in Amsterdam) Microsoft has launched its new technology ‘Mediaroom’ that will give a “liftoff to next generation of interactive TV” (Microsoft, 2008).
Already 3 major companies (AT&T, BT and Deutsche Telekom) and their 1.5 millions subscribers are using this technology. Microsoft is confident that this number of providers and subscribers will grow rapidly.
In ‘The Big Switch’ Nicholas Carr warned us that this kind of practices would take place. He argues that information services will be in the hands of the few and that this new kind of economic realignment will probably be at the cost of the users (in terms of control). So, we should think twice when we read Microsoft’s press release. Is IPTV really designed for us users/viewers to make our lives easier? Or is it just another widget to control us and the world’s economy?
I think that both questions have truth in them, and that both seamlessly reinforce each other. But this doesn’t mean that I’m glad with Microsoft’s hands on TV. I think that the company already has enough economical influence and that IPTV will only make Microsoft’s domination worse. Also the fact that they will use “private data sources with broadcast TV” doesn’t set me at ease (Microsoft, 2008).
Today Microsoft’s economic strategy doesn’t seem that big of a deal, but we should be cautious with accepting and tolerating such developments. Because they could influence our socio-, political and economic future.