The Stalwart submits: There's a lot of talk about screen real estate, i.e. the space on your computer screen, which everyone wants a slice of. Advertisers want to carve out their corner, and many just want to cover your screen entirely. Of course, they have to enter into arrangements with content providers, who want ample space for themselves. The ever expanding monitor is good for everyone, but as the space is still scarce, the battles are always pitched.
But there's another kind of screen real estate that may prove even more valuable that every company wants its cut of. That's the space on top (or underneath) your TV screen. Think about all of the boxes that are piling up. There's Microsoft's (MSFT) XBOX, the TIVO (TIVO), the set top box from your cable company, the DVD player, and if Apple (AAPL) has its way, there will be space for an iTV, a box made for streaming movies from your computer to your TV.
That's a lot of boxes all doing very specific tasks.
It doesn't take a rocket scientist to see how high the stakes are in this game. If Apple succeeds in getting its box in America's living rooms, it can sell you movies, TV shows, video games (?), charge your for DVR-like services, etc.
What's funny is that this is what the XBOX was supposed to be all about. Everyone's been talking about how this was Microsoft's secret Trojan horse. It's supposed to be their toe in the door, so that eventually it can sell movies and all that stuff that Apple's doing. Well what are they waiting for?
So will one box hegemonically take over the roles of the rest? Can one box be your cable receiver, DVD player, videogame player, DVR, and bridge between the TV and computer? Maybe, but as long as the world of digital media remains a morass of competing standards and filetypes that can only run on designated hardware, it's hard to see one company consolidating the space.
Perhaps the real winners will be the furniture companies making bigger and bigger shelves for your TV-related electronics.