In the ongoing trend towards miniaturization that will undoubtedly end with television screens implanted into the corneas of every human being at birth, the great Japanese gods of technology have been developing portable video players so that mortal men may take the television that was too inconvenient to watch last night wherever they go and watch it at a time that is merely inconvenient for everybody else.

Downloading video content from the internet, or streaming, has become increasingly popular. Your favorite shows can be stored on portable media devices and viewed at your leisure, and the more popular services allow you to plan your viewing with the aid of online schedules and reminders months or years in advance.

The latest in TV technology is to stream live television content directly to your mobile phone, allowing the user to watch the programs that he missed anywhere and at any time of his choosing. Unfailingly, the user will do this on public transport and will do so roughly five seconds after the vehicle has gone into motion and it’s far too late for anyone to change seats. This is a particularly popular occupation in Japan, where both public transportation and mobile phones are items of national pride with just under 100 million Japanese people replacing their phones every eighteen months.

In Japan, the humble mobile phone contains an internet browser, e-mail services and e-commerce programs built in. In my home, I polish the screen of my mobile phone and try to convince my friends that the reflection is a phone camera.

Notwithstanding the pioneering pace of our Far Eastern cousins, the path of progress is not without its obstacles. Far too few people are spending their money online to create a viable marketplace for vendors and advertisers to justify the outlays involved in setting up these services. The costs of transporting complex signals, such as a television show, over a third generation wave carrying network is far more than more conventional forms of broadcast. The solution, according the great men and the think tanks of our leading broadcasters, is that the future of TV is in a combination of e-commerce and television content.

By pulling their customers in with the allure of free service and content, they may better entice them into their virtual stores, creating a stream of cyber foot-traffic to their merchant’s halls. The future of this brave venture is uncertain. As with all scientific progress, the designers do not seem to have any concrete plans for finance but merely to have followed the urge to mix everything up to see what happens.

The more mercenary reader might cry out at this point “Charge them for the service! Cease all this “free” nonsense at once and find a solid revenue stream.” A bold sentiment, and I applaud you for it, but your cries are currently falling on deaf ears. Too many people in the business fear that this will simply drive people away, either by turning them off to the entire idea to forcing them into the hands of those hedonistically socialist business models that are still providing their content for free.

One other development in this, the latest in TV technology (this we can safely forecast) that these ideas will soon become omnipresent with programming being beamed to your game console, palm pilot and washing machine. Each device in the home could comprise a home entertainment center of itself and the choice as to whether you watched the television on the more traditional set or on the reflection in my mobile phone would be yours and yours alone.