The end of cable TV? Internet rules, say supporters

Computer guys for the past couple decades have tried to solve--or be part of the solution to--the puzzle that is cable TV transmission. Now they again think they've cracked the code and will win the hearts, souls and devotion of former cable TV subscribers who will dump their cable subscriptions and set-top boxes and rush to computer-based devices.

New Internet televisions, expected to swamp the market by 2013, won't require separate boxes, software and setup so "the days of the box sitting next to the TV are numbered," according to Steve Perlman, founder of WebTV. Using TVs to connect to the Internet "is a very natural extension of what they've already embraced in their technical life," added former FCC chairman Michael Powell, now a media consultant.

Even if a box is part of the equation, it doesn't need to be a cable box. Jeremy Baker, of Seal Beach, Calif. gets his TV through a Microsoft Xbox after he disconnected his cable service. "We go to other peoples' houses and it's like, 'Wow, commercials! What are those?'" Baker said. Of course the computer guys fail to take into account two very big factors: current televisions are big investments and last about 15 years, so nobody is going to run out and buy a new Web TV. And commercials? Those are the things that pay for the content.

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