Monday, August 17, 2009

The (death of/future of)* newspapers

* Delete whichever you think is inappropriate.

The discussion of what's going to happen to newspapers is rushing ahead. One interesting piece was this hour long debate (I don't claim to have watched it). We know Murdoch has talked about the need for readers to pay for content, though as I've noted that itself raises interesting questions about the payments system.

One of the other interesting questions is exactly how will the readers of the future want their news delivered. The big contention currently looks to be between delivery to "smart phones" and delivery to "e-readers". Alan Kohler has done a neat job of stepping through the technologies old and new. He talks ably about how he gets news delivered as an iPhone App. He also speculates on the idea of there being an iPad just around the corner. **

Meanwhile the SMH tells us that Australian publishers have rejected the Amazon Kindle as a viable e-news delivery route.

Perhaps what remains the most fascinating part of all this is how a couple of ket features of the Digital Economy are on display here and not discussed. The first is the payments issue. The second is the whole business model - more particularly the relationships that need to exist between content publisher, conduit and device, and the way these players in the market (I will not call it a value chain for reasons discussed below) need to relate to each other.

The term value chain is inappropriate because in the classic value chain model each step in the chain has a service delivered/payment received transaction. There are e-media models that have the end user having their direct financial relationhip with any one of the device provider, the conduit provider or the source content provider (in order PayTV as the device provider is Foxtel while content comes from the separate channels, the classic internet and finaly the Kindle model).

The difficulty in all this remains how bandwagon or network effects operate. You can't get any model up and sustainable without the bandwagon, and once the bandwagon appears there is a natural tipping point to one platform. Once you get that tipping point the only potential saviour of "markets" is competition law - as Apple is now finding (and I recall Google is getting close to finding).

** A good time to remember the iRack.

And that found me an oroiginal and totally different use of the idea of an iPad

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