Media industry disruption opens possibilities

I recently attended the seminar Internetdagarna here in Stockholm, a big event discussing trends in internet usage.

There were all the usual stats, like 85% of all Swedes having access to internet at home. 97% of the internet users have broadband and 81% of them use internet daily. Mobile internet is increasing rapidly.

The keynote speaker Jeff Cole from USC Annenberg School Center for the Digital Future talked about the ongoing disruption in the whole media industry sector.
Here is the video from his excellent speech: “Falling Apart or Coming Together: Media and Consumers in a Digital Era
Some tidbits:
“Now everything is falling apart.”
“Newspapers have 5 years left in the US, 8 in the UK.”
“People don’t live by schedules anymore. Schedules don’t work!”
“Consumers are beginning to abandon subscriptions to print media and have little interest in paying for digital content, at least for the next five years.”
“Advertising is still preferred method. People who opt out might have to start paying.”
“All media will survive, but most will be smaller players in the digital era.”

Many of the other sessions discussed the disruption in the media industry, everybody seemed to agree on:

  1. The digital transformation will continue, faster for some types of media and slower for some.
  2. Most print media business (especially newspaper and news magazines) will be badly hit by the digital transition.
  3. Media consumption is increasing due to ubiquitous internet access and all the new mobile devices.

Pontus Schultz, head of business development at Swedish publishing giant Bonnier’s R&D department outlined it wisely:
“Everything goes digital. Digital is free.”
“People want to pay, but so far we have packaged stuff that people don’t like paying for.”
“You don’t pay for news, you pay for identity and for being part of a community.”
“The challenge is to stop being a broadcaster and become a part of the conversation.”
“Reader interaction: don’t ask what they think, ask what they know.”
“Tablets like iPads is a chance for media to do it right this time.”
See his talk (in Swedish, starts at 18:20)

Strategies are necessary, but they are worthless without action!

Pontus ended by saying that media is usually quite good at creating new strategies, but lousy at implementing them. This is a key insight for me!

All this means that today’s media conglomerates are like ocean-going super tankers. When they see icebergs they have big difficulties changing course due to their massive inertia based on their 100+ years of traditions. Some of them have smart crew members like Pontus and will be able to change course a little quicker and perhaps launch some smaller experimental vessels that will take off. Other will hit icebergs or continue slowly into oblivion.

The time is now!

So there are now unique conditions for small speedboats to run around the tankers and cruise on top of the waves, adapting to the ever-changing conditions in the digital ocean and building new types of media content and services. These speedboats can of course be launched from existing media companies (and some already are) but I think the biggest part of the expanded digital media business many will be built by a new breed of media companies.

They need to be small, creative and agile, populated with a multi-cultural mix of  techies and communicators combined with experienced, open-minded media savvies and some hybrid thinkers like me.

These new speedboats can now be built by small groups of open-minded people anywhere in the world. The tools needed to build a new media service are now far less expensive, faster and easier to use. Sweden is an ideal location for this due to our crop of talented developers and internet-savvy early adopters.

This tickles my mind, what about yours?

My life as an Early Adopter

Updated Nov 27, 2011

My name is Henrik, and I’m an Early Adopter.

I don’t see being an early adopter as part of a competition to be first with new stuff. I’m just curious and can’t help that I want to try out and learn new things all the time. And I don’t buy new things until I am convinced that they are useful to me.
It is not an easy life being an early adopter, I don’t recommend it. An old wild west quote: “Pioneers are the ones with arrows in their backs!” And it is usually not the early adopters that make the money.

But I am proud of having adopted several important trends very early and my gut feelings for applications and functions are often accurate, both for successes and lemons.

Continue reading My life as an Early Adopter

eBooks vs eMagazines

I have enjoyed various forms of eBooks since the early 90s (when they were sold on floppies…). But it is not until April this year I have started to really see eBooks and eMagazines replacing some of my boos and magazines in my ever growing piles of things to read.

The reason for this is of course my iPad. It is a delight to use, not only because of its wonderful screen, but because of two features that are not so often mentioned:
1. It start up in half a second. This is changing my behavior a a lot.
2. The form of the iPad makes it usefull in all sorts of “laidback” reading positions, in the arm chair, in the TV sofa, in the bed etc.

Since I have worked since the 80s producing interactive “multimedia” I really like the rapid development of eMagazines and eBooks now. For example embedded videos, animations and various forms of user interactivity.

I have bought and read a number of eMagazines and eBooks and to my surprise I now begin to feel that I enjoy the eBooks more than the eMagazines. I have read both crime novels and business eBooks bought from Amazon’s Kindle app and from Apple’s iBook store.

I find eBook reading on the iPad to be a better experience than reading most physical text books:

  1. It is much faster and easier to buy an eBook.
  2. I can read my eBooks on my computer, my iPad and my iPhone, and the reader software always directs me to the place in the book where I was the last time, independent of which device I used.
  3. I can highlight text, make bookmarks and write notes etc, just like in a physical book, something I always do for my learning.

eMagazines are now appearing in many flavors and I really like this development. But it feels like we are bnow seeing just the frist wave and that there will be a lot of further development needed befor eMags will seriously compete with paper mags.

I wrote about my first impressions of eMagazines in my post “iPad Media apps; CD-ROM revisited, where I complained about the lack of social functions like being able to share articles, make notes, interact with the ads etc.

Now I have spent many hours reading dozens of eMagazine titles, and I still miss all those functions. But also, I still don’t feel as comfortable reading eMags as I do reading eBooks.

I feel that  my vision of the beautiful magazine layout is hindered by looking at it on the iPad screen. The image is sharp and bright, but I have to scroll a lot and I don’t have the overall view that I have with a paper magazine. It is not just that a paper magazine is usually bigger in size than my iPad screen. It is about rapidly turning the paper pages, reading them in any order and get a feeling of how long an article is before reading it.

Am I alone in feeling this? Will I get over it? What do you think?

So I think that we need much more research in user interface design and layout for devices like the iPad before the eMagazine market will really take off. I am convinced that all magazine publishers are now working to address those issues and I really look forward to reading the second generation eMagazines.

Hopefully they will look more like Bonnier’s promising Skiing Interactive concept, which is much more active, lean forward type, scheduled for launch in October 2010. It will be for laptops, hopefully an iPad version will follow.

Enjoy their sneak peak video:

Skiing Interactive Demo Video from Skiing Interactive on Vimeo.