The Internet is likely to have a a much larger impact on TV than TV
will have on Internet backbones. There is vastly more storage than
transmission capacity, and this is likely to continue. Together with
the the requirements of mobility, and the need to satisfy human
desires for convenience and instant gratification, this is likely to
induce a migration towards a store-and-replay model, away from the
current real-time streaming model of the broadcast world. Further,
HDTV may finally get a chance to come into widespread use. The
flexibility of the Internet is its biggest advantage, and will allow
for continued experimentation with novel services.
Nicolas Negroponte famously opined that while we were born into a world in which our phone calls were made over wires and our TV shows beamed through the air, we would die in a world in which this had been reversed. The digital moment has now come: toss the Negroponte switch. Countries further down the path to universal subscription TV - Belgium is now surpassing 96 per cent cable penetration - may well take the lead. Eliminating the wasteful duplication of off-air TV enforced by regulation would be popular with consumers and unlock exciting new opportunities for wireless entrepreneurs.
So if you believe that people do want to watch whatever they want whenever they want, you need a massively distributed system. Which brings us to "file-served television" and that TiVo board meeting. Having a PVR's really big hard disk in many living rooms creates a massively distributed system: Instead of relatively few hard disks owned by the cable operators, you have hundreds of thousands of hard disks owned by everybody. And thus the space to store a million hours of video content.
That's file-served television. It is very different from today's TV: The popularity of content is controlled by users rather than broadcasters. It's a system flexible enough to adapt to a new TV standard like HDTV over time. It's a vision that's big enough, in fact, to contain all the previous visions of the television industry.