Jacking in from the D.C. Port --
Anywhere, U.S.A. -- Max Headroom came back from the grave today.
You remember Max. That futuristic TV program that featured a reporter's alter ego that actually lived inside the "Network." Max had great vision... but little market share and was buried in the late '80s.
But today Tele-Communications Inc., the nation's largest cable company, Liberty Media and Bell Atlantic merged to create a company larger than General Motors, larger than AT&T. TCI and Liberty will cease to exist; it'll all become Bell Atlantic. These companies have created the NETWORK that Max only dreamed of.
But TCI and Bell Atlantic have market share. More than that, they have cash. The merger creates a corporate monolith with combined revenues that could zero out the national debt of Argentina.
There's much more to the story, but I have a day gig and I'm jacked in here between interviews. This is big news. You have TCI chairman John Malone talking about how people will be able to "hang programs" on the net, letting people download them at will.
Want to watch some HDTV? No sweat, just tap a few buttons "or speak into a box" Malone said, and the operating system for a HDTV compatible set is downloaded to your 1,000 MIPS microprocessor and you're set. Those are Malone's words ("I'm really more of a techie"). He talked about "nice little inventions," such as Trip Hawkins 3DO that, with his NETWORK, would cost little because you could download all the software and applications from the fucking cable channel (right down the line from the Home Shopping Channel). Malone talked about something that sounded a lot to me like the ultimate "Red Neck Gopher." A system that would allow you to "search for all the options you want in a pick up truck" find the best price on them and then "arrange to have that model available for a test drive at your local dealer."
Like I said, your basic "Pickumup Gopher" server...
There was talk of "products that we can't possibly mention" because "they haven't been invented yet," Malone said.
What type of access point will this have? Again, nobody knows, but the 2 boxes that you have today, one for telephone and one for cable, will "evolve into one," Malone said.
There goes the neighborhood... unless of course this idea of massive amounts of information being owned by the same provider turns you on.
Oh yeah, Malone could walk away from this whole thing with about $680 million in his pocket, based only on the stock he owns in Liberty Media being rolled into TCI...
And he did say, "I'm going fishing" when asked, "well, what do you do now?"