TV: Be Gone!

If you’re after a conspiracy theory, here’s one. The web site of a company selling a gadget that can turn off any television was unavailable this morning, a message on its home page saying that its daily bandwidth limit had been exceeded.

TV-B-Gone enables its user to discreetly turn off annoying televisions in public places like airports and bars. TV-B-Gone is carried on a key chain so it is ready for action whenever and wherever a televisual presence is deemed to be interfering with the carrier’s enjoyment of the silence said TV is breaking. But this morning the web site at www.tvbgone.com was unavailable.

Apparently the electronics giants and entertainment industry are none too pleased with gadgets like TV-B-Gone, because they could ultimately mean that fewer TVs are sold (is it worth buying a TV for a departure lounge if the ‘audience’ is able to keep turning it off?), and it also has repercussions for the entertainment industry because it could potentially mean fewer hours of ‘passive’ TV watching and hence less revenue from advertising.

Could an irritated electronics giant or advertising agency have launched a denial of service (DoS) attack on the TV-B-Gone web site, just when it starts to garner real attention? Possibly. Though it’s admittedly more likely that the little company that sells the gadgets – Cornfield Electronics – simply hasn’t bought enough bandwidth to handle the peak of interest in its new product. I’ll ask them if they think they may be embroiled in ‘TV-B-Gonegate’ – the key chain television turner-offer equivalent of Watergate – and if not, whether they are going to stump up some cash to increase their bandwidth. I might just ask for a TV-B-Gone for review too: I’ll let you know if it does exactly what it doesn’t currently say it does on its web site.

Update a day later:

There was an article in the UK’s free London newspaper, Metro, this morning about the gadget. But just when the company is garnering so much attention, the web site is still down. Now it says “The TV-B-Gone website is undergoing reconstruction due to the high volume of viewers.” What timing. Terms like capacity planning and on-demand scalability come to mind.

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