Television Powershift from Hollywood to Redmond? Somebody, Please Wake Up Bill Before He Hurts Himself

Back in the Hutong
As a (what I thought) carefully controlled reaction to the megalomaniacal nonsense Bill Gates gave The Hollywood Reporter about the future of TV, I penned this little sucker for ChinaTechNews to underscore that Bill’s vision, even if workable in the U.S.A. (and I have doubts about that), is a long way from prime time in the World’s Largest Television Market.

Andrew Orlowski of The Register wrote a flat-out brilliant piece that takes gates gently but firmly to task for his delusions, and I quote:

“But Gates’ belief in interactivity is almost religious. An intelligent man with a zero boredom threshold, it’s no wonder he finds traditional broadcasting tedious and dull. As Gates tells the Hollywood Reporter, he hates linear assumptions.

Gates’ presumption that only stupid people can enjoy non-interactive TV is widely shared amongst technology evangelists, but it isn’t widely shared amongst the population at large, who simply clamor for better programs. The enthusiasm of the audeince during Jon Stewart’s Crossfire appearance, where he berated the format for its idiotic theatre, shows that people want better programming, not to click more.

But in addition to thinking mass audiences are axiomatically stupid – if you got a dollar for every time a technology enthusiast berated someone “not getting it!”, there wouldn’t be a pensions crisis – Bill also makes a another mistake. He thinks broadcasters are stupid, too.”

Assuming stupidity on the part of a potential adversary is dangerous. And after reading both articles it was pretty clear that Gates has sunk enough fingers in enough pies to be clearly looking to dis-intermediate everyone in the industry between the content creator and the content user. Which is fine – if you can find a better highway (a two-way highway, no less) between the two sides. But it looks increasingly like Microsoft is simply interested in building any highway, as long as the tolls go to Redmond.

This is not the old days, Bill. We’re not going to sit back and let you steamroller us into sending larger and larger chunks of our disposable income in your direction.

Are we?


About David Wolf

An adviser to corporations and organizations on strategy, communications, and public affairs, David Wolf has been working and living in Beijing since 1995, and now divides his time between China and California. He also serves as a policy and industry analyst focused on innovative and creative industries, a futurist, and an amateur historian.
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