I've yet to connect all of the dots but consider the follow new stories in the new media space. Some things are brewing, some things are changing, and some things are about to explode.
These stories are in no particular order but I do believe strongly that they ad up to something pretty big. Consider the following:
Half of all music sold will be digital in the next three years. Microsoft won't release a new OS in that time. We've stopped being a "blip" on the books. People are taking notice and changing some things as a result.
Remember that writers stike? Digital distribution was a huge issue. It's about the money.
Random House killing audiobook DRM means that Audible's demise and sale to Amazon means only one thing – they've made the very careful choice not to pick sides in this upcoming battle. And trust you me this, there is a battle coming. Amazon has always wanted to become a media company with with Audible, Unbox, the Kindle and their MP3 store, they are very quickly going to become a force to reckon with.
Apple ain't just in the music game – they're renting movies now. They also ain't just in the movie rental game – they're in the discount movie rental game. The new release of iTunes has a weekly 99 cent movie rental option. It's much easier to rip a DVD from Netflix or Blockbuster than it is a rental from Apple. There is a lot less plastic, no postage and minimal employee requirements through this model. How could the movie business not support this full-force?
Speaking of movies on plastic, the death of HDDVD doesn't appear to be doing a thing for Bluray. Ever wondered why?
More and more on demand content from pretty much everyone and their mothers seems to indicate some small change in studio understanding of the value of their back catalog. Why worry about the kids stealing Fantasy Island and Star Trek when you can make a few pennies by streaming it. And, of course, if you don't have to share your profits with Apple and/or Blockbuster, a few pennies is decent profit indeed.
I've written a few times about how impressed I am with the Apple TV and how they have effectively killed the subscription paradigm. Ever wondered what else they're looking to kill? This little patent for custom Podcasts and general excitement from the industry could be means by which Podcasters who once screamed for the rights to own their feeds give up control for that "download is finally a watch" metric that eveyone who thinks the real strength of this tv/radio killer is the ability to insert ads just like radio/tv. Yes, this paragraph contains a lot of juice and wasn't perfectly written but read it again. New media is dangerously close to giving up something they once held very dear.
Am I suggesting that Apple has realized that new media is the future of their platform and that the Apple mantra of control it all is seeping out of Infinite Loop? Don't know yet, … but one has to wonder. Anyone else notice that they seem to be releasing something new every Tuesday?
Can't talk conspiracies without talking Microsoft. As hinted over at our ZuneLuv.com site, Zune/xBox Wifi integration is inevitable and that desktop / living room / pocket connection that Apple is doing so well at suddenly has a real competitor. And, dear friends, it will be a real competitor very quickly. Sure, Apple dominates the pocket, but don't underestimate the power of those xBoxs connected to those televisions. That hardware can do everything Apple TV and do right now – AND IT PLAYS GAMES THAT DO BIGGER SALES THAN HOLLYWOOD. Do the math on this one.
Now, to Microsoft's benefit, they haven't done much (or at least that we know of) to try to change the game too much. xBox supports pretty much every file format (why Media Center hasn't caught up yet is beyond me) and the new Zune plays everything the iPod does and, get this, more. Their placement of Rob Greenlee as Podcast Lead has his regular and consistent engagement with the community indicates that, at least in this stage, they're looking to play nice. Do they have plans for later domination? Who knows.
But they are in this to win as well. When two sides are in this to win, a battle is the result.
And, one day, someone at Microsoft is going to realize that they're future isn't in getting us to upgrade Office and Windows. That days is coming very soon and that day will increase the intensity of that battle something fierce.
What do new media titans do with this kind of information?
I suggest you watch these three guys like hawks – for these very specific reasons:
Kent Nichols of AskANinja has a very solid and very profitable brand and is doing everything in his power to keep it his brand. He is also looking to profit as he deserves to from it. His blog is a must read as he's sharing every bit of it as an "ousider" living in the "inside" of it all. Oh, and yeah, he's actually making it work.
Tim Street brought us the French Maids. Say what you want about that brand but read his Blog. If you ever get a chance to meet Tim or see him present about this space, it is money fantastically spent, he ‘gets' it too – and is trying to figure out how to make it all work. He's got enough past experience to help us blend it all.
Dan Klass is the underdog in all of this but … he's got inventory and is now selling it. Forget this free nonsense. Whatever happens to the Bitterest Pill will be written in the history books (or Blogs) of our little escapades.
I've written enough already and now actually have to work at paying a few bills.
Things are brewing. There is something in the air – very immediate.
And if you haven't yet noticed, I'm glad I could help.
I appreciate your thoughts and comments.