B L T.

In a few days I’ll be heading to Austin to attend the Interactive portion of SXSW. The session line-up for this conference is fantastic and there are a few in particular that I am looking forward to including Monday morning with: Beyond the Web: TV & the Internet Converge.

I just read Al Ries book, The 11 Immutable Laws of Internet Branding, and in the last chapter he presents a pretty good argument as to why convergence of these two technologies (TV and Internet) will not take place. According to Ries, history has shown a number of products that sould have been likely finalist for convergence yet just the opposite, divergence, occurred. Take for example the idea of the flying car, a very popular idea in the 40’s and 50’s but a lack in sales and real consumer interest killed the idea. Products like the combination TV/VCR pale in comparison to sales of the separate components and show no signs of increasing.

Believing in this point of view, television and the Internet will not converge but diverge into several products and services to meet the needs of unique lifestyles, psychographics, demographics, etc. As rationale for this position, Ries points to Microsoft’s WebTV and how difficult it has been for Microsoft to successfully convert TV users into the hybrid TV and Internet user. Despite spending millions of dollars in ad campaigns and product reserch, WebTV users only add up to 1% of the total television viewing audience.

I am reminded of how many times in my life I have thought, wow this [insert technology here] is going to make life easier. Instead I see more and more people looking like they’re wearing Batman Utility Belts. In 1995 I attended the monthly Alaska Advertising Federation luncheon where the guest panel discussed our impending migration from a 50 TV channel world to a mega 500+ channels. Television station owners were advised to prepare to fight the good fight because it was make-or-break time. Time passed and nothing happened.

I’m hoping for a tennis match of differing opinions and expert testimony at this particular panel on Monday morning. Later this month I will be posting my notes to this and other panels that I attend. For now I’m going to listen to my clock radio.