Dell is already the largest maker of LCD monitors in the world, so with all those screens out there, why not use them for television, instead of just PCs?
That's the question CEO Michael Dell posed Wednesday, speaking in a keynote discussion during Technology Review magazine's Emerging Technologies Conference at MIT.
According to Dell, it's likely his eponymous company will soon start selling home-entertainment devices such as TVs. "What's the difference between a monitor and a television?" he asked. "The difference is just something called the tuner, which is a very small piece of equipment."
In Japan, half of all TV viewers watch on their computers, rather than on TV sets, Dell said. He said he doesn't expect U.S. viewers to ever reach that high a percentage because we have different viewing habits, but the percentage who will is likely to be significant. Consumers are getting used to managing media and entertainment from desktops, Dell said.
"If you think about the home, the PC is becoming more and more the center of the entertainment experience." Dell may release a whole line of home-entertainment products controlled from a home PC that could shunt, say, music to a stereo, network news broadcasts to one screen, and the latest Web cartoon from Homestarrunner to another screen.
While in the prognosticating mood, Dell said wires in the home will be gone. "I think the likely network topology in the home is wireless. With the speeds improving, and costs coming down, some form of 802.11 is the likely way we'll distribute information in the home."
Of course, in building a digital-media-enabled home, Dell is likely to run across all kinds of problems regarding copyright and fair use. But he said he's already working with content owners to make the system work. "We're very concerned about digital-rights management and about creating an environment that's comfortable for the content owners, because if they don't bring their toys, you don't have much of a party."