The television will be revolutionized. That much we know. We just don't know who will start the revolution -- or when. We're not talking blood-in-the-streets revolution, but more of a dinner-party one, in which someone comes up with a downloadable movie that's as visually appealing as television but as interactive as the Web. It means fast and cheap technology that will almost certainly employ some highly efficient peer-to-peer software. Progress is coming in fits and starts. This month, Netflix ( NFLX)
rolled out its "Watch Now" feature , giving select subscribers the ability to stream movies on their PCs for free. Netflix's service, limited to 1,000 movies, is being rolled out to 250,000 subscribers a week, probably so Netflix can see how -- and whether -- customers use it. It could prove an end run around postal fees if enough subscribers take to it, but for the next quarter or two it's likely to eat into operating profit if it means fewer rentals. A less ballyhooed but just as noteworthy development came from Janus Friis and Niklas Zennström, the creators of file-sharing legend Kazaa and VoIP program Skype, now owned by eBay ( EBAY). That service, titled Joost and created under the auspices of an entity called The Venice Project, claims to allow for speedy downloads of images that will look good on a large-screen TV, let alone a standard-issue PC monitor. It's interactive like YouTube, only with much better resolution.