By Carl Howe
I know, I know, Fake Steve Jobs is supposed to be a spoof. But Monday, he completely and seriously nailed the future of television under the unassuming name of "A boring rant." Read the full post for where he thinks the TV networks have gone wrong, but his vision for what comes next is gripping:
You know what the new network is? It's me. I don't think people have quite figured this out yet, but just as Pixar was once a medical imaging company until I decided to make it into something completely different -- ie, the most important entertainment company of the 21st century -- so Apple is not really a computer company anymore, or even a consumer electronics company. We're a network. We take content and distribute it out to millions of people, who play it on handhelds (sold by me) and computer screens (ditto) and yes, maybe, sometimes, on actual TV sets. At one end of the value chain, the consumer end, people have already voted. They like my system better than yours.
At the other end it's trickier. We don't deal directly with the content producers. Instead, we have to deal with these network gatekeepers. But why? What value are they adding? As far as I can see the only thing the networks add is an extra step and a big scoop off the margin.
The producers of content don't like the TV network system but can't quite see the way across the divide into my digital world. Some musical artists, like Prince, are figuring it out, but they're isolated examples. Trust me, however, when I tell you that TV and movie people will figure it out too. These are not stupid people. And they are not un-greedy. Which means their desire for more money and more control and more freedom will lead them to apply their energy into figuring out how to get out of the plantation the TV networks have created for them. They will break free. Mark my words.
I predicted Apple would become a TV distribution network almost two years ago. Now, the idea is rapidly becoming reality. And unless the networks do something soon, it's going to be hard to stop.
There's an old saying in the Internet world that when the Internet detects censorship or choke points, be they technological, business, or political, it just routes around them. The Internet is in the process of routing around the TV networks. The only question is whether they'll change soon enough to avoid becoming irrelevant.