Michael Cairn's blog today lays out some interesting prognostications about our industry. While I'm not thinking at the same level as Michael in my exuberance, many of our thoughts dovetail. I particularly agree with the line, "In the not-too-distant future, we may look back on 2007 as a significant transition year for the media business." I made a similar statement in a post I made in December.
So, here are a few of my own prognostications:
- I think that 2008 will be a 'wildfire' year in terms of the use of technical devices (pc's, ebook readers, cell phones, pda's etc.) for the purpose of reading. I say that with my XO pc sitting next to me, and thinking about all of the children that will be introduced to technology who don't have access to printed materials. I think that in general, 2008 will be the year that ebooks go 'mainstream'.
- 2008 will be the year of infrastructure building for book publishers. The new digital paradigm requires a much different infrastructure than the traditional print paradigm. Most book publishers spent at least part (if not all) of 2007 creating strategies and figuring out what the infrastructure should look like, and 2008 is the year to make all that a reality.
- I agree with Michael that the 'squeezed value chain' from author to consumer is going to challenge many book publishers. But, I am very excited about what I see as potential opportunities in those challenges (more on that in a future post).
- In 2008, both Google and Amazon are going to do something that knocks our socks off. I have lots of ideas about what could happen, but I won't speculate here. I'm willing to bet that they both spent a lot of time in 2007 planning to release something big this year.
- In 2008, the killer app is going to be the one that helps consumers identify the content that they want to read and cull out the content they don't want. Peter Bloom used the term 'separating signal from noise' at the AAP Annual Meeting last year. There is so much content available to read, that even with RSS feeds, and subscriptions, there is too much to sift through. Software and people that provide that kind of service will surely hit the market in 2008, and continue to get better and better in the future. I especially see an important role in this for social networks, libraries, and bricks-and-mortar retailers.
- I think that blogs will continue to grow and improve in 2008, and will become an increasingly important aspect of online communication. Minimally, they will be used to keep ecommerce sites fresh with content, but more and more, you will see them used as instructional tools, and dialog starters. I especially like what Seth Godin had to say the other day about how it doesn't matter whether a blog only gets a few hits, as long as they are the 'right' hits. (Unfortunately, I couldn't find that entry again, so I can't link to it, sorry!)
- The lines between all forms of media are going to get blurrier and blurrier. 2008 will see a continued trend toward simplifying our abilities to move between (and interact with) audio, video, and text based medias. I expect many new types of hybrid products being experimented with in 2008.
- In 2008, I think that there is a real possibility that consumers will become overloaded by the amount of content pushed at them, and look for ways to eschew some technologies and simplify their lives.
- Unfortunately, I also expect that in this year of very rapid change, some of the more monolithic companies are going to feel some pain, and may even be toppled because they couldn't adapt fast enough. (I never thought I'd think of Microsoft as a monolithic company!) Publishers that don't get very entrepreneurial this year are going to find themselves in big trouble by 2010.
That's probably enough for now. Times of change are always good for Quality Solutions, and I am sure that the roles we play with our customers will only grow in both size and importance.
Here's to a great 2008!