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A new day for WebTV?

July 13, 2007 |  3:29 pm

I used to make fun of Microsoft's WebTV, the dial-up-Internet-on-TV product, as a service that was forever stuck at 1 million customers. Seemingly every time new subscribers came on, an equal number quit. But when I got my first DSL line, it occurred to me that Microsoft may simply have been way ahead of its time.  That time, in fact, may be now.

Research firm iSupply issued a report this week saying that more than 60% of the people surveyed said that they want to connect to the Internet through their TV sets.  This, I think, is a function of at least two factors: the insinuating effect of broadband, which makes users want to be online all the time, and the arrival of digital television monitors that can present the Web the way it should be seen.

Manufacturers certainly have picked up on this trend. For instance, on Thursday Sony unveiled nine new Bravia HDTV's that can connect to selected online video sites. That's not the ultimate solution -- people want to be able to go wherever they choose online, not where their TV manufacturer chooses to take them -- but it's a step in the right direction.

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