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HTML5 could be “game changer”

The newly emerging HTML5 program language will be a universal “game changer,” said new media investor Roger McNamee, a founding partner of the venture capital firm Elevation Partners. The language, he said, will enable content producers to create an audio and video web experience that will play on any connected device.

HTML5, said McNamee, “will be disruptive in ways we cannot imagine today” because it will be a way to completely bypass the middlemen and gatekeepers. Once it is being widely adopted for content, ads and even Tweets, it will challenge companies locked in distribution combat over various formats.

That includes major players today like Netflix and Hulu. McNamee thinks HTML5 will make it easier for consumers to get around these content models. He made the comments in an interview with MediaPost’s “On Media” newsletter.

McNamee sees this transition happening in 2012 and beyond. He predicts the creation of a “hypernet” platform and eventual successor to the Internet. He said that means all bets are off in terms of which companies will rule in the future.

Companies like Google, Microsoft and Facebook are already vulnerable because they have not quickly or sufficiently extended their business models to mobile, McNamee said. Ditto for cable, telecom and satellite providers in their battle to hold back competition.

McNamee said no one is safe from being upended by the next wave of disruptive technology that changes the rules of play as surely as Apple and Google once did. His thesis becomes especially interesting when applied to the gradual integration of the television and the Internet. Flat-panel television screens have the potential to displace cable and satellite vendors with simple functionality, such as program discovery and DVR management, McNamee said.

The real edge belongs to anyone in the controlled distribution of television, which McNamee said is the last protected space. He also noted the government has ceded control of this medium to several industries. As at-home interactivity becomes as much about transacting as access, even television’s enduring business model will change.