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Day October 3, 2012

The Critical Path #57: There Were Too Many Newspapers in New York

A conversation with Philip Elmer-DeWitt on Apple’s relationship with the media. How did the relationship evolve, is it changing and how is Apple addressing different media channels. Philip brings 30 years of experience to Apple journalism and provides some poignant anecdotes about Steve Jobs, the folklore of Apple and the disruption of journalism itself.

via 5by5 | The Critical Path #57: There Were Too Many Newspapers in New York.

The Crucible of the Phone Market

[The following was originally published on LinkedIn.]

The US is in the forefront of smartphone usage. This has not always been the case. Five years ago only 3 percent of US phone users were using a smartphone, lower than the global average. At the time Palm and BlackBerry were the prominent devices in the US while in Europe Nokia’s push with Symbian and Microsoft’s licensing of Windows Mobile led to a smartphone adoption rate of about 7%.

All that changed with the iPhone. After 2007 the US began to rapidly catch up and eventually overtook all other regions in terms of smartphone adoption. The latest data from comScore Mobilens shows that the US is now effectively 50% penetrated. The following chart shows just how quickly this happened.

In December 2009 only 17% of Americans used a smartphone as their primary phone. As of August the total reached 49.8%. By today the US is effectively a majority smartphone usage country and it looks like there is no slowing. We might very well see the US reach saturation with 80% smartphone usage in another two years.

Speaking at TOC Frankfurt October 9 about publishing

This is a quick note to mention that I’ll be speaking at the Tools of Change (TOC) Frankfurt Conference this October on the eve of the Frankfurt Book Fair. Conference details:

  • Tuesday, 9 Oct. 2012, 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.
  • Frankfurt Marriott Hotel
  • Hamburger Allee 2
  • +49 (0) 69-7955-0
  • Directions

You can get a 20% discount if you use the following code when registering:

TOCPartner20TSpeaker

I’ll be speaking about the jobs publishers are hired to do. Without giving too much away, here is my synopsis of the talk:

We’re inclined to “categorize” or “segment” media according to its attributes. We think of visual, auditory or written forms as distinct. Within each of these definitions of media we further sub-segment according to the way they are packaged. As in books, periodicals, or TV vs. film and albums and singles. These definitions are convenient because they describe the product and the product has evolved into a distribution chain and a therefore a market. It becomes therefore analogous to think of a book market and a TV market and a periodicals market as if these are what people actually desire.

But what people desire are more basic things. They desire to feel good or to be comfortable or to escape into fantasy or to be aroused. They have thirsts for knowledge or flights of fancy or needs for belonging. Authors and story tellers have sought to serve these needs for as long as we’ve been humans, regardless of the medium. When you step back and ask what the real “markets” are you realize that we’ve categorized according to technical and business means of delivering these needs.

Business theorists have a word to describe this categorization: segmentation according to product attributes. It’s a common practice to define markets according to products rather than what these products are hired to do. The great Harvard marketing professor Theodore Levitt used to tell his students, “People don’t want to buy a quarter-inch drill. They want a quarter-inch hole!” The idea that you can categorize by what consumers want to get done rather than what you are selling them is not new but it’s still a very hard thing to get your head around. It’s become known as “Job to be done” segmentation and has changed product planning for many firms. If you apply this method to your industry you realize that the products you sell are in competition not with other products like them but with completely new products. A newspaper may be in competition with Angry Birds and a TV show with FaceBook and a Movie with a cinematic themed video game.

If you take the history of story telling and job to be done analysis into consideration you realize that technology has always played a part in how stories are told and re-told. This technological progress is accelerating and we are now in an era where apps are the new medium which can encompass much of any of the previous story telling mediums. Apps are so flexible and so easily distributed and consumed that they threaten to converge multiple media types. I’ll explain how app economics are affecting not just games, but all forms of publishing.