All things being equal, some time this month should witness BSkyB's foray into e-commerce, taking over - if we're to believe the hype - where the PC leaves off.
With its digital television service having already signed up 350,000 subscribers, Rupert Murdoch's interactive channel, called Open, claims to bring commercial realism to e-commerce in a way PCs never will.
Once Web TVs hit the masses and top retailers harness the power of the internet to allow viewers to order goods from the comfort of their armchairs, the era of the home-based PC will effectively be over. At least, that's how the argument goes.
Of course, it all sounds a bit like how a couple of years ago, Sun Microsystem chief executive Scott McNealy and Oracle chief executive Larry Ellison were predicting that network computers would prove to be the PC's nemesis, at least on the corporate front. So far there's been little sign of that happening.
But TV-based e-commerce could be a different kettle of fish. The Management Consultants Association has already started to warn that IT companies should plan Websites that work with the next generation of digital TVs.
Sad to say, notions that the home PC is dead could be spot on for once. In the US, one company is actually giving away PCs to anyone willing to provide details of their consumer habits and who agrees to explore the internet for at least 10 hours a month. Such is how the value of PCs has fallen - they're so cheap that they can be given away. It doesn't bode well for traditional PC dealers trying to survive off wafer-thin margins.
And then there's Onsale, another US Website that reckons there's more money to be made in selling PCs and accessories at wholesale cost plus a token $10 per transaction. The site is ready for UK registrations and, curiously, Compaq PCs can seemingly be bought from it - despite the manufacturer's previous protestations that it had no plans to bypass the channel with direct sales.
More worrying was Hewlett Packard's move just two weeks ago to offer its Brio PC range direct from its Website, even though the vendor says it has no intention of selling into Europe this way - yet.
Either way, with cut-throat prices, direct selling and the onset of digital TVs, it does look as though the days of the home PC could well be numbered - with resellers and manufacturers locked into a grim death dance for what's left of the corporate market.
But where does that leave the reseller, apart from a bit of configuration and implementation work?
And forget the kids' multimedia market. In a few years, they'll be at home in front of the TV, but this time networking in a game of Quake across a BSkyB portal while the PC will be in the shed gathering dust.
To add insult to injury, their parents will have also bought their digital television directly over the internet at - you've guessed it - wholesale cost.
Dave Evans is a freelance IT journalist.
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