Ready for another Mirage?

In Analysis on February 14, 2010 at 2:14 pm

Tintin’s friends Dupond in the desert : “What about a good bath? rich idea!”

After the Ipad Introduction, the dust is slowly going to the ground .
Is the Ipad going to provide the advertising/circulation platform tool that Print Medias have been expecting for two decades?

Some are very doubtful. Read this blog :

Richard Tofel : How the iPad Could Kill Newspapers

“Thus, it has been clear, for perhaps three to five years, that any sudden conversion of all print readers to web readers, while greatly reducing costs, would reduce revenues even more, deepening losses at unprofitable papers and throwing those that remain profitable into losses—losses that would likely be impossible to reverse except through huge further expense cuts, especially in newsrooms. The downward spiral in product quality would be accelerated, likely leading to fewer readers and more cuts.

Unfortunately, nothing about the iPad, as wonderful as it looks and feels, holds out the promise of avoiding this problem. It is hard to imagine how ads delivered on an iPad could garner a price three, four, or five times that for today’s online ads. But that is what would be required for a profitable transition.

On the circulation side, things look better, but not better enough. iPod apps, the analogy on which charging for content on an iPad will likely be based, are amazingly inexpensive; many powerful apps are free, and ten dollars a year buys robust services—with Apple keeping a big cut for itself. It may be easier to charge iPad subscribers than it has been on the web, but charging them even a decent fraction of what the Times, for instance, charges print subscribers—more than $600 per year after introductory discounts have expired—seems like a pipe dream.”

Pretty scary isnt’it?

the following comments are very interesting :

“Your essay appears to assume that Newspapers aren’t already in free-fall mode. I’m afraid that the template of advertiser-driven content support that used to work in print media is over. The advertisers are not coming back, and only a few newspapers will survive, and in a much-reduced format. I think Apple, with its innovation, has the potential to help monetize content delivery with fees for subscriptions. That’s about all we can hope.”

another one:

Online advertising is actually the problem. The limitations of human vision and ad size have created a serious problem for advertisers. They can’t say much in a tiny space. If headlines or images or combinations of these are required how do you put them in front of someone? Do you compress them to the size of a matchbook cover? or elongate them into a banner? Do you make them annoying and force people to look at them by getting in their way? (…)
If you control the content, and present advertising in a non annoying way, larger (more like print), add more tools that provide more value to the advertiser, the architecture of how print works will be preserved.

this one too :

“Yeah wait as second while I abandon the 1000’s of free news sources online and fork our $3.45 a week for the NY Times Online … News Agregators baby. That’s what we should be talking about.”

Once again it appears that The Reader (the real King) wants to have access to a multitude of sources, the ability to access transversally to these sources and as long as possible to get that for free.

In that case there is not much choice for Media companies to survive.

a) go united to the Itunes ecosystem on the Ipad (and on the Web?)

b) enable reading about subjects across multiple sources (competitors) simultaniously, transversally (like in Google News or Fast Flip)

c) STOP FREE ACCESS on the Web to force users to go to the paid platform

d) involve readers into a “pay for unlimited access to multiple sources” model like in the TV industry where you access channels “collections” via subscription

That means also that there should be a very very strong position where content would not be free anymore, suddendly, meaning WHITE PAGES ! A sort of strike from the publishers against free content. The total refusal to die for free access journalism.
A real war.

It’s easy to say and not easy to do.

Otherwise another Mirage is very likely. It would be the last one for the publishing industry.


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