Tuesday, April 26, 2005

jab reader raazi to kya karega paparazzi

The writing's on the web) .. Big media has finally acknowledged the threat posed by the natives of the digital world. People today are packing in 30 hours in a day constrained by 24 hours. I am not talking of consultants who do such things by bogus over billing of clients. Welcome to the always on generation, the digerati who are soon going to overtake the paparazzi. TV is a passive wall paper , ipod plugs are an extension of one's ears , the mobile phone is what the riveted denim was for cowboys and newspapers maybe are good for packing shoes. A phenomenon which the new Tata Indicom campaign captures through its 'do more, live more' theme ,(sourav dadas attempts notwithstanding ). Multi tasking has made the lines between work, leisure and sleep so blurred that the battle for attention is painstakingly elusive. And media czars like Murdoch are definitely concerned. He said in a recent speech that lot of editors have lost touch with readers and the youth dont want to listen to news presented as gospel. He has also hired Mckinsey to chart out his online and wireless strategy that is almost Armstrongian as " one small step for Mck, a big step for media ".
Move over the Microsoft Linux wars . They will pale into comparison in the new convergent world. Convergence is finally reality. Bill Gates was right in his book " The Road Ahead" where he said we tend to overestimate in the short term and underestimate in the long term. VC adrenalized dotcom dreams failed due to pipes blocked due to dialup speeds and people sounded the deathknell for anything webby. But with cheap broadband access due to glut in bandwidth and ubiquitous mobile telephony, convergence is blurring the walls between media , telecom and consumer electronics. The itunes service based on the Apple ipod has tipped the scales against the music labels who cannot believe 10 mn ppl are paying 99 cents to download a song rather than buying CDs. It would have been simple if these new avenues were just another distribution media where existing content could be repackaged and one can expect a steady stream to the bottomline. So how will win this war or how will the new ecosystem of co-opetition evolve is a critical question.
The problem is media owners love control. The premium they would pay for control is directly proportional to the number of legal resources employed by them. Its also historical since most media conglomerates are edifices built on one man's vision or lust for power whichever was longer or wider. So they would be paranoid about releasing their content on the web and such new avenues. Moreover they would ask for a price so premium that the business model will definitely tank. The only option where they would charge a reasonable price is when they believe the business model has a low probability of success like they thought with Apple itunes service and are cribbing now. But thats how bargaining power sometimes shifts to platforms that create tangible consumer value or are uber cool to be part of. The critical thing is what type of content would succeed. It could be new types like blogs etc. It could be the universal ones like music and sports. But the online world with its wide choice exhibits different characteristics than the traditional broadcast or publishing models.
More on these changes later...


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