Platform Communications Views

Why is the media/technology sector so hot right now?

The last few days has seen a great deal of activity in the technology/media interface that I inhabit.  A quick survey includes: Adobe ditching Flash, Kindle Fire shipping early, Google Music launching, Blackberry launching a music service, Nokia entering the tablet market, Nokia getting good reviews for a smartphone, Netflix preparing for UK launch, Logitech leaving the leaky ship that is GoogleTV, Sony planning a ‘different kind of TV’, Boxee adding Live TV and a large number of labels leaving Spotify. On a personal note, that last one’s rather a shame: I love Spotify.

Talking to industry friends and colleagues we all feel that the media/tech world’s really hotting-up. I’ve been thinking about why and I’ve come up a few ideas and things to watch out for:

  • We’re at the weigh-in stage in the upcoming fight over TV and other media distribution and aggregation. That’s the bit where the contenders make rather foolish appraisals of their competitor’s parentage. Friends fall out and enemies become friends; all before enmity sets in again. This is going to run-and-run. I’ve been anticipating and thinking hard about this fight for over 15 years. So it’s pretty exciting to see that it’s starting to happen.
  • CE devices not only make great copy but also are really important. Watch the money is good advice. But watching what content is being watched on is a good idea too.
  • Music’s an interesting battleground, but be careful you don’t extrapolate too far.
  • Distributing video to the end user has traditionally been a local business. Globalising video distribution (pay and free OTT) has huge potential – and broadband access makes this possible.
  • Very large and well-funded companies full of very intelligent people will continue to make very poor decisions about the TV and video industry.
  • That doesn’t mean that they will continue to make major mistakes. Microsoft made the cardinal error of not understanding that it didn’t understand TV. That was bad news for Microsoft and even worse news for its large telco customers. Google has clearly made mistakes, but may be bright enough to realise it in time.
  • What if video distribution is not the ultimate fight – the space could become a loss-leading battle ground for the next big thing: the connected home. How would your business model stand-up under that scenario?

I’m really looking forward to the next 12 months. I’m seeing some very exciting developments just from the clients that I handle personally, let alone the rest of the agency and media/tech industry. I want to finish with one cautionary note: providing new ways to access video and entertainment doesn’t necessarily persuade consumers to make incremental media purchases. New market entrants and the existing media distributors, in the developed markets at least, are likely to be fighting over a slow growing fist full of entertainment dollars for some time to come.

David Bramley