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Jobs and Gates Ponder Home Media Future

1 Jun, 2007 By: Stephanie Prange

Hollywood has gotten something right, according to Apple Inc. CEO Steve Jobs.

Executives have learned from the missteps of the music business and are looking to electronic delivery with a more-informed eye, Jobs said during his much-anticipated appearance alongside fellow tech titan Bill Gates, chairman and co-founder of Microsoft Corp.

The two made a rare appearance together at the Wall Street Journal's D: All Things Digital conference in Carlsbad, Calif.

“I think people want to enjoy their entertainment when they want it and how they want it, on the device that they want it on,” Jobs said. “So ultimately, that's going to drive the entertainment companies into all sorts of different business models. And that's a good thing. I mean, if you're a content company, that's a great thing. More people wanting to enjoy your content more often in more different ways, that's why you're in business. But the transitions are hard sometimes.”

He used the music industry as an example.

“[With] the music industry, it turned out that the Internet got fast enough to download songs pretty easily,” he said. “There was no legal alternative, and maybe they made some bad choices in how they reacted to that.”

But Jobs, who also is a member of the board of The Walt Disney Co., said Hollywood is looking at this brave new world with a more experienced — and experimental — eye.

“There's a tremendous amount of experimentation and thought going on that's going to be good,” he said. “It's going to be really good if you're a content owner.”

As to the future of entertainment delivery, both said the Internet will play a major role, but not necessarily the only role. The Internet will do part of the task, Gates said.

“The big milestone is where the delivery platform is the Internet,” he said. “I think you can get a little bit of a glimpse of the future of TV more from looking at community-type things like Xbox Live.”

Both said multiple devices will rule electronic delivery in the future.

“I don't think you'll have one device,” Gates said.

“Home, you'll have your living room, which is your 10-foot experience, and that's connected up to the Internet,” he said.

There will also be many screens, Gates said.

“The 5-inch screen does not really compete with the 20-inch screen, which does not compete with the big living-room screen,” he said.

Don Eklund, EVP of advanced technologies at Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, asked the two if they thought the diversity in platforms was holding back convergent devices.

“It's hard to limit imagination,” Jobs said. “I think that's part of what we put up with to have innovation.”

However, Gates said the market was quite good at weeding out the lesser platforms.

“I don't see things that are going to hold back a convergence device,” he said.

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