Time will tell

September 28, 2010

This morning I had the pleasure to visit Hans Janssen, ceo of Woodwing. Woodwing, as most readers will probably know, is the de facto leader in helping publishers of magazines and newspapers to enter the post tablet digital realms. In an amazing move they have  helped TIME to publish the first iPad magazine on the same day the device was launched this spring. They keep on serving publishers around the world and new issues are launched almost every week.

I was very impressed by the Frankfurter Rundschau. I certainly hope publishers keep on experimenting and come up with new forms of content. Funny though I can not find any mention of it on their homepage.

Time will tell. Hopefully.

Paid Content Game

August 18, 2010

The game has changed. A move, bold as always, by Mr. Murdoch. He did it again.

Mr. Murdoch is a businessman and his business is News. His empire is global and includes all types of media, old and new. In the recession he felt the departure of advertisers and over time he reached a simple conclusion: News can not be free. That is to say, no company producing News can function properly without the green stuff.

Murdoch was ridiculed about putting up paywalls. The entire webcommunity condemned such behaviour. But who cared? News is free on the web and we’ll find it somewhere else, right?


Insiders knew something else was going on. A new combination in the make.

Let the games begin!


July 22, 2010

Today’s disruptions

July 20, 2010

The capacity to react and respond to disruptive technologies, and I must say the incapacity as well, is the central theme of this blog. During the last weeks however I rediscovered a basic fact. It is not technology itself. Technology has only potential if and when used and applied properly. It is not technology that is disruptive.

Effects of technology have the power to be disruptive. Startups can challenge incumbents. Market outsiders can attack existing markets. Customers can act as a swarm and suddenly decide to go elsewhere. Established players should react and respond not to technology, but to other people’s actions. Players should redefine their position and value proposition.

These days the best battlefield to watch the bizarre and explosive mix of  high tech, attacks by startups and lack of responses by incumbents is media and publishing. Today Amazon communicated that it has been selling more ebooks than paper books for already quite a while. Today I recieved an email from a wellknown author stating that publishers think it’s 1960. Today I recieved an action leaflet from Aldi, a large discounter (food and nonfood), offering an inexpensive ebook reader. And that’s just about books.

Today I learned about the first personalized newspaper for the iPad while my own quality newspaper on paper still carried at least 5 enormous mistakes in it’s main editorial comment of last saturday.

And that’s just today.

The mediaindustries show us what will happen and is happening if and when myopia takes over inside a company or industry. Wise lessons are to be learned by just watchting them.


The Paradox of Free

July 3, 2010

One of the most interesting online items today is whether or not customers and consumers are willing to pay for original content. It is a complex issue. A very complex issue. As is the case with most complex issues the real questions are not discussed in public and they are multidimensional.

It is about change, disruptive technologies, pressures on value chains, outsiders entering existing markets, user experience, customer behaviour, marketing, business as usual, the quality of a product, power, egomaniacs and most importantly a lack of time to reflect & think. A little bit about differences in mentality and speed between incumbents and newcomers. In my humble opinion it is not at all about a collapse between old & new media. Both still have to pay the bills.

Let’s start with the reason why this subject became a dominant issue. The economic crisis, leading to cutbacks in traditional advertising and the gradual shift towards online ads, mainly search driven. So it is all about money. And as everyone knows, all things in life are relative, except money.

It has to do with correcting mistakes from the past. Some publishers decided to give away their content for free, in exchange for the idea that money could be made from advertising. A decision based on vague notions and a lack of understanding online behaviour. It is very hard to admit one made a mistake and even harder to repair it.

It could all very well be a power struggle. Murdoch wants to block GOOG and at the same time deliver a strong message to unions, shareholders and politicians. GOOG needs content, content makers need viewers, revenue streams are not yet properly divided. The people who do the work, and it’s hard work, want to be paid.

It is about some major shifts. News and opinion shifted in an elementary way. Scarcity became abundance. Customer’s time to watch, read and view shifted from well defined time slots to 24/7 multitasking.

The first step in adressing this complex issue is to define it as a paradox and not as a dilemma. Free or not free is seen as a dilemma. It is defined in terms of either or. But it is not. It never was. And never will be.

Stewart Brand is misquoted most of the time. Information wants to be free, yes. But at the very same time some information is priceless.

That’s something else. That’s a paradox. The Paradox of Free.

Before you redo

June 28, 2010

Those with myopia see near objects clearly but far away objects appear blurred. That is exactly the case for people in companies and the companies themselves in the markets they serve. It is only natural to focus on the things, people and processes we know and to consider the way it has always been as the way it will always be.

It is not technological change itself, nor the disruptions of markets or the changes in customer behavior it causes, that force companies to adapt and adopt. The reason companies do change lies in the ability to understand these changes and to translate them into a vision, a strategy and a plan. In order to do just that, companies as a first step have to accept that myopia is a natural state of being. One has to accept that the future is not ours to see. One has to understand and accept that foresight is just a fantasy. Fantasies don’t pay the bills.

Foresight should never be applied. Do not look forward, look backwards. Hindsight is better than foresight.

Take a look at the web and how it affected your market and your product or service.

Is your core product news? Has the web and it’s still increasing exponential curves of change changed your basic product? What happened in this short period of time?

Is it your core service to gather readers and to offer this community of people to other people who are willing to pay top dollars to reach these people?

Rethink before you redo.

Outsider looking in

June 25, 2010

Outsiders watch industries under pressure and are not hampered by tradition. An industry under pressure is an industry where profits are evaporating. It’s really that simple. Tradition is the mentality of ‘business as usual’ combined with myopia. That’s simple as well.

Take the music industry. When analogue became digital, record companies pushed their libraries of content and made a fortune. A perfect reason for myopia:  less money to spend, higher margins and a huge demand. So execs became lazy. They forgot their basic audience: young kids without money, but with lots of time. The sole reason a young man came up with the idea of P2P, was that he could not buy a single anymore. Just one piece of music, not the whole album.

We all copied music when we were young. We all exchanged our music. This time however the bazaar was global and 24/7. Record companies sued users. Sharing sites were closed. While the record companies were defending their turf, an outsider came up with a new idea. As always.

Better copies for people with more money than time. Search, find, pay and play all in one well designed device. A single device, so to speak. What Apple basicly did was what they have been doing al along. Look at people, examine their needs and wants and come up with a multi user approach. All in one. Seller, artist, distributor, buyer, listener. Everybody happy.

But there were mp3 players all around us at the time. Why became the iPod this success? Well, as I told, it is not just a device, it is not just a gadget. It is a multi user thing. Just like the Mac was and just like the iPhone and iPad are.

Just keep watching as the iPad is taking the world of books, newspapers, magazines, tv and video by surprise.