SPECIAL REPORT: TV, TODAY AND TOMORROW
Internet technologies promise to soon take couch potatoes to worlds
far beyond TiVo. Even phone companies could benefit big-time
Just a few years ago, the fine art of watching TV seemed unlikely to
change much. You watched programs when the networks told you to watch
them. Maybe you taped them on a videocassette recorder. Either way,
your choices were limited. Then along came the TiVo (TIVO ) digital
video recorder, which as its 2 million loyal customers will tell you,
added more than a little convenience to the coach potato's world.
Turns out, TiVo was just the start. A new wave of TV-related
innovation called IP-TV is just starting to reach consumers. Just as
the service known as voice over Internet protocol is poised to
revolutionize the phone business by offering a low-cost Internet
alternative to traditional phone service, IP-TV could bring
Internet-style interactivity and flexibility to your TV set.
It won't happen overnight, of course. But over the next decade, the
long-hyped notion of "video-on-demand" could become commonplace,
allowing consumers to watch what they want, when they want to.
They'll be able to control their IP-TV service remotely through a PC
or a cell phone. And they'll be able to personalize their content,
whether they want to watch the local high school football game or home