3/31/2005

Microsoft Portable TV

Recently I read an article entitled, Microsoft launches portable TV service. The article mentions that Microsoft is now providing a service for $20 a year that allows anyone to download certain TV shows to portable devices such as media players and advanced cell phones. Most people have already been allowed to download and watch some television shows for free. The newly launched service promises to provide more viewing options than the current free version, by bringing more sports, business, and children’s programming to the menu. The service marks Microsoft's latest effort to get people interested in Portable Media Centers and other devices that use its Windows Media Player technology for watching movies and listening to music. The idea of charging people for something they are already getting for free seems to be an economically challenging idea. I can’t help but wonder if perverse incentives will force people to find free ways to download the television programming, and skirt their way around the $20 a year service fee. Then again, it seems that $20 bucks is a small price to pay to be able to download all of the TV programming your portable little viewing device can hold, especially for a full year of service. Microsoft probably has a really idea going here, only time will tell if it becomes a profitable monopolistic little venture at that further enriches Bill Gates.

2 comments:

sierra said...

I like the idea of being able to download movies and television shows onto your cell phone, or other media technology. There have been lots of times when I have been on the road and wishing I could have some kind of movie on my cell phone to watch. Twenty dollars seems so cheap for this convenience, but I do think people will find ways to avoid the $20, and get it for free. I believe microsoft knows what they are doing, so I am excited to see how this comes out.

Dr. Tufte said...

I wonder if you download the commercials too? One of the reasons that the programming charges are lower for cable than satellite is that commercial skipping is easier in the latter (and advertisers want to be compensated).

I also tend to think Microsoft may be looking for some early monopolistic competition profits from this. This just doesn't seem to me to be a business which will command a high price once it is established.