Monday, March 20, 2006

The Future Has Arrived: Ubiquitous Wireless Broadband

There are two things that people often forget when discussing a phenomenon: 1. What is see is not what you get. Any incarnation of a new idea is nothing more than version 1.0. Anyone smart will build on it, improve it, and eventually morph it into something that may not resemble the original at all. 2. There is most likely an endgame. Eventually, the rate of change decelerates, and we have reached the final stage of the product's evolution.

Take telecommunications. We started with writing on rocks, developed mail service, Samuel Morse invented the telegraph which sent encoded electronic signals, Bell turned those signals into voice, we now send data over those wires, etc., etc. There is continual evolution - phone lines carry DSL where once they were thought incapable of anything more than 56k. Cable provides even greater bandwidth.

But the market is eventually driven by customer needs. Portability is a big part of connectivity; not just annoyance with wires and having to rip up my house if I want to rewire. Think about where this will lead us - we can high-speed connectivity; we want portability, i.e., ubiquity. Wireless broadband.

The Wall St. Journal reported today that a system in Oklahoma is installing wireless: TV The next step: the endgame of connectivity.

Friday, March 17, 2006

More than 24 Hours a Day; If Only I Could Bill for It

With the proliferation of media, we are not far from the overdose level. Before, we could take the 24 hours in a day and divide them by usage: 8 for sleeping, 9 for working, 2 for commuting, 4 for consuming media, 1 hour for things we can't mention since this is a family-friendly blog, etc. With the advent of media multi-consumption, we can listen to our iPod while surfing the web with the TV on in the background as a truck with an advertising banner passes by our window. Therefore, we can consume an infinite amount of media during our 24 hours. There was a citation in the media recently that teenagers have effectively created a 38-hour day due to multi-consumption.

That would seem to be good news for marketers - more consumption of media usually means more opportunities for advertisers. Unfortunately for programmers and advertisers, most of it will be background noise of no greater impact than the hissing of my radiator. Engagement is becoming more important; that's probably important since our engagement seems to be going down.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Content may be king, but not everyone gets to be the king

Yahoo announced yesterday that it will be scaling back its efforts to generate original content and will shift to content generated by others, particularly users: This is the latest step in the evolution of the web and illustrates a number of key rules that are generally applicable across businesses:

- Stick to what you know. Yahoo is terrific at aggregating audiences and enabling navigation through content. Trying to create new a content brand, i.e., competing with players such as Disney, ESPN, CBS News, etc., but leveraging its strengths to drive audience to its content is a tough challenge, especially when the web makes access to any and all content so easy.

- Don’t compete with your customers unless you’re going to win. Becoming a content provider makes you less attractive to other content providers. While that discussion is pushed to the end of the article and disclaimed by Yahoo, I think that it must have been a larger influence than Yahoo was willing to admit.

And finally, we seem to look at each new medium as if it were just a variation on the old one: TV is radio with pictures – early TV shows were studio shows of people clustered around a microphone. The web is interactive TV – let’s create TV programming for the web. Oops, maybe user-generated content is the key.

Let’s see where the web goes next.