Hangin’ with Bill at the D conference

by Mathew on May 31, 2006

Sometimes it’s just impossible not to hate Walt Mossberg. Okay, hate is a strong word. But still — not only does he have a plum job getting access to all the cool gadgets and tech stuff, and writing about it for the Wall Street Journal, but he also hosts the D: All Things Digital conference, which routinely gets people like Bill Gates and Steve Jobs and Eric Schmidt to show up and be interviewed and even hang around by the pool.

Case in point: Gary Arlen of Arlen Communications in Washington attended the conference and wrote about it for IPDemocracy, summarizing what Billg said in his interview — and describing how he buttonholed the gazillionaire over by the “poolside pastry/dessert table” and asked him what he thought about net neutrality. Not surprisingly perhaps, Bill said that he was “in the middle” on the issue, before being whisked away by Washington Post CEO Don Graham.

Among other things, Arlen says that Bill is convinced this is the year IPTV really takes off (it had better be, since Microsoft has been selling that vision to plenty of companies, including Verizon and AT&T). Of course, Bill also said about 10 years ago that ubiquitous pen-based computing was right around the corner, but hey — let’s not get picky. Here’s Arlen’s take:

IP “blows away the broadcast model,” Gates said, predicting that “this is the year all the pieces” will come together and eliminate the “dividing line between TV and the Internet.” Asked about the traditional broadcast model, he bluntly pronounced, “It’s gone. It was a hack.”

More coverage of Gates here, and at PaidContent, where they have a great shot of the Bill Gates “bobblehead” doll that Walt gave to the real Bill as a speaker’s gift. Very classy. And Eric Savitz at Barron’s has a list of the “schwag” in the bags given to D attendees (hat tip to Paul Kedrosky for the link), including a coupon for money off five office chairs from Steelcase. How Web 1.0.

Update:

Arianna Huffington of HuffingtonPost.com has a description of Bill Gates’ keynote — an account that is interspersed with notes back and forth between Arianna and actor John Cusack (hat tip to paidcontent.org for the link).

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