I think about the future of media, technology so much that I worry that I think the present is the past. But check a LED tv playing a Blu-ray disc and immediately you will see that the future is now here (and can be delivered to your home by Amazon).
People who wax eloquently about how nice it is to open a book and feel the pages, see the great images in them of course still have a great point, but they should also consider how hard it is to get a Wii controller out of the hand of a 6-year old (or forty+-year old).
Media Convergence, what is it all about? Well, in a simple way it is the endgame where you can finally browse the web on your tv. It is, however, a lot wider than just your living room as you can consume digital media on the go as well. You can download an eBook to an inexpensive reader and subscribe to podcasts on your iPhone. LED televisions, which might catalyse Convergence to the next phase, are awesome and not so expensive even. These slim, low-energy devices blast intense digital data at you and in their afterglow, you will understand that the digital future will be arriving at your home real soon.
What is exciting about this Convergence though is not just the really cool ways in which we can access media or how stunning the quality is--it is the shift from audiences being passive watchers of broadcasts, printed materials to the active mode of pulling what you want, when you want it, how you want it. Further the social web puts you into the mix and let's you participate and (typically) enjoy the interaction a lot more.
It is really this fundamental change in consumer behaviour that will be impossible for "old media" to deal with. The audience needs to become the community. The content creators are not commodities but the leading voices and micro-stars that engage and drive the energy. The web generation is consuming online data voraciously. It is active, it is multi-threaded, it is cross-platform -- and they are the stars of their own shows.
Online advertising is already pushing beyond both print and television. What is going on in the Book Publishing Industry? Of course a lot of the latest data coming from print, media and book publishing industries is depressed due to the overall global economic crisis. But nonetheless, if you take a look at the stats from the AAP about US book sales in July 09 book sales you can see some interesting trends. Sales for eBooks are $16.2mm and growing rapidly--but trivial in the mix of the $25 Billion industry. New hardcover and paperbook sales were holding their own during the summer time, but taking a beating compared to last year. Mass market titles are potentially no-man's land down 15% compared to last July and down 5.3% for 2009 trend--probably this area is under the most direct pressure from online.
Book publishers should also be very concerned about their Educational books -- where they enjoy some big margins, but also face major issues with costs for students as well as a whole new way of studying. Higher education titles had $941mm sales out of a total of $1.54 billion which is more than 60% of the total pie. What will the new media landscape do to the textbook market? Is the combined force of economic pressure and the newest way of digital media consumption a cocktail that shakes the publishing industry into a froth in 2010? Net net, Book Publishers are fighting online for shrinking piece of a shrinking pie.
We are thinking a lot now on how to create the new wave of content and brand experiences that will thrive when it is really out with the old and in with the newest in 2010. Our first pass on all this is Heritage Key. Check it out and let us know if we got it right or not!