Posts Tagged Human Nature

Three things the iPad tells us, Part 3

Evolve or Perish

Old Media is still playing Catchup

I said that part of the reason for this three part post was the articles in the WSJ. In the same section was an article about Hollywood Video claiming bankruptcy. They never really adjusted to the internet/netflixs evolution in media consumption. The dinosaurs are learning. Adapt, or die off.

And this article was in the WSJ. The next dinosaur in line.

When music became a 3-15 meg file rather than a time consuming copy job, the music industry didn’t notice. When the internet allowed those files to be shared the world over, the music industry didn’t notice. When the music player started organizing in playlists and genres and ratings, the music industry didn’t notice. Now, were it not for people who understand these things, the music industry would be dead.

Apple, Microsoft, cdbaby, Amazon, and many other groups that understand that music is just one more string of ones and zeros have changed the face of music. Once upon a time, if you wanted music you had the radio to find you new bands, which meant you found the bands that the music industry paid the stations to play. And if you liked the music you bought an album, because getting a single song was, in most cases, not possible.

Today, if you want to find new music you can punch into Pandora and choose music that is similar to what you already listen to, rate it, and improve the stations ability to play what you want, not what pays to be heard. And when you find a song you like, you can buy similar songs, whole albums, the bands entire catalogue, or just that lone song. Even if it isn’t a single. Even if the band has no label. Even, as my kids keep reminding me, if your only in third grade and only have two dollars allowance to spend.

The movie companies are getting the same hard lesson, some details changed. Now the book and magazine publishers are lining up with the newspaper companies. Class in session.

Sadly, this should be an opportunity. The WSJ listed several iPad articles today. Given the nature of the current consumer attitudes and the method of delivery, if they had published only one of the stories for free, and linked to the others for a tiny fee, they might be making money on the web rather than losing it.

I get what music I want, when I want it. I buy only the shows I wish to spend money on, only when I wish to watch them. Why should I pay $2 a week for the Journal when, at most, I read 3-5 stories a week in it? Give me a free summery, link to related articles for pennies, and they would make a few dollars a month from me. But they want the full price, and the full product. Instead, they get nothing….

Because they didn’t build the infrastructure. There is no universal pay system. I entered a credit card number once into iTunes, and I never think about it again. Buying a song is cheap enough to be an impulse, just like a story for a few pennies would be. But not when I have to enter 2 pages of billing information to every paper. The impulse stops by then.

Worse yet, they could be tailoring a page just for me, based on my past purchased stories and tendencies, and making even more money. And the model is already being used. Everywhere. And it works. And the iPad would be just one more way to stuff exactly the information I want into my brain in simple usable form right there at my bedside.

Hell, newspapers and magazines should be paying Apple to give these things away free!

Maybe Apple and Barnes and Noble and Amazon can save papers like the WSJ yet.

Which is the other half of the evolution verses revolution lesson. While the long slow integrated process of evolution is hard to steer, and impossible to push forward, it doesn’t slow down for laggards either. If we don’t want to get crushed under foot, we have to move with the flow.

The question is, do we want to sit back and see where we drift, and when we arrive find that we are unable to change course? Or do we want to look ahead at what we are doing, where our current heading implies we will go, and drive it with purpose?

Maybe as we go down the current road we will keep finding people and groups that save us at the last minute, as the music industry has found in companies like Apple and Pandora. But they also lost some say in their destiny because they put themselves in a position where they didn’t have a choice.

Isn’t it better to choose now rather than not have a choice later?



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