I never said that I told you so October 1, 2009Posted by David Gillespie in business strategy.
Tags: Australia, Glenn Wheatley, iPod, James Blunt, Mobile phone, music, Radio network, Stripe Radio
I’m not one to revel in another’s misfortune (unless it’s James Blunt of course, he’s first to go when the revolution comes). I couldn’t help but smile however when I got wind of Glenn Wheatley’s Stripe radio network having closed its doors in June this year. For those that don’t know (and that would seem to be everyone given it has joined Pets.com in the place bad ideas go to die), Stripe was going to be radio you paid $10 a month to access on your mobile phone.
Long time readers may recall me writing about this last July when news of its impending launch first came out. Rather than re-word it, I’m just going to paste what I wrote:
- Why would I pay $10 a month for radio on my phone?
- Particularly me who does not listen to radio at all?
- Why in an age of increased personalisation will I believe you can satisfy me with someone else’s taste-making?
- Why create a service that relies on early-adopter up-take when the early-adopters do not listen to radio or value music in pure ones-and-zeroes terms?
Now, I imagine much of the VC money has already been sunk, unfortunate for those involved. If you guys with the money could just begin to understand that broadcasting in a one-to-many model is dying and being replaced with niche-casting and many-to-many, you might have a hope of creating something with lasting value.
This last quote from Programming Director Jarrod Graetz is killer:
“A great advantage of our service is that you don’t need a new device or gadget to hear us. If you’ve got 3G coverage, you can access your favourite music and programs from your (3G) mobile phone, and of course on broadband internet. No ad breaks, less interruptions, more music. We position ourselves as “What you want on radio” because we believe Stripe delivers what Australia wants.”
The bolding is mine (the lack of vision entirely their’s). I may not need a device to hear you, but I have a device anyway, it is called an iPod. It comes with NO interruptions and ONLY my favourite music and programs. See, it doesn’t actually matter if you do serve up what I want on radio, because I don’t want radio.
*ahem* All together now…
TOLD YOU SO!
Give me a reason August 27, 2009Posted by David Gillespie in business strategy, technology.
Tags: Canada, Fast Company, iPhone, Nokia, Research In Motion, Symbian
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I find Nokia a fascinating company. Relegated to a bargain basement offering in North America, outside of that continent their phones are sought after. Perhaps not the way an iPhone is, but then Blackberry doesn’t have the cache on my island that it seems to have here in Canada either (helped in no small way by being RIM‘s backyard).
Never the less, the launch of their Netbook is an interesting move. Most curious to me is the inclusion of a SIM card slot, which reverses the trend of phones with computer-like functionality and brings us a laptop with the portability accessibility of a mobile phone. It feels gimmicky, though Nokia’s Tero Ojanpera is on the cover of this month’s Fast Company, stating:
We will quickly be the world’s biggest entertainment network.
Big words from a hardware and software company. I have no crystal ball into Nokia’s future, but I can’t imagine the plan is anything as mundane as content exclusive to Nokia proucts in some capacity. We’re moving ever faster to a ubiquitously networked world of transportable identity, one that will be less and less beholden to business models (see the music industry for reference) and more beholden to consumer habits.
The other thing I’m thinking is they’re trying to boost developer support for their Symbian platform…actually the more I think about it, the more this seems to be a play that has nothing to do with the cloud, and everything to do with the device you have in your pocket. What I can’t wrap my head around is why anyone would look at the whole sale destruction of the music industry and still exist in a world where a device and content are somehow interminably linked.
I’m all ears if someone has a different take on this.
In our private universe August 24, 2009Posted by David Gillespie in business strategy, music, Video Games.
Tags: Blizzard Entertainment, BlizzCon, Future Publishing, Kevin Kelly, Mark Earls, New York Times, World of Warcraft
From the “No-that’s-not-right-here-let-me-show-you” Department, Blizzard and Future Publishing have announced a World of Warcraft magazine, hoping to leverage an additional $40 a year out of their 11.5 million person base of players. At a time when I can’t imagine too many other companies entering a paper-based publishing medium, I actually think the move is genius and hits a few really key things, primary among them all is a hark back to Kevin Kelly’s 1000 True Fans.
Of course in this case the fans number in the millions.
The premise is simple: your biggest fans will go above and beyond to have every ounce of content and information about you they can get their hands on; these people are not the mainstream, but they’re a profitable niche that usually go uncatered for, making do with what everyone else gets most of the time.
The World of Warcraft example above stems nicely from selling access to a service for everyone and then breaking away additional offerings for the hardcore within your audience (as I write this BlizzCon is concluding, in-person church for the faithful but also available as a pay-per-view event online…you couldn’t write this stuff!).
maybe this marks the end of that really selfish buy-to-own model (“it’s mine, all mine”) as opposed to pay-for-access?
Mark was referencing some interesting visual data showing the decline of physical music sales over the past 30 years (shown below). Personally the games industry leading the way here doesn’t surprise me; it’s a relatively young industry not bound vehemently by outdated models and able to flex with the times. It was the first to take user-generated content mainstream, I imagine it will be the first to do many, many other interesting things. But take note: create something genuinely of value to an audience, treat them right, and reap the rewards. Rinse and repeat.
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It’s never been like that August 4, 2009Posted by David Gillespie in business strategy, technology.
Tags: Barriers to entry, Fred Wilson, Google Reader, The Guardian
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Apologies for the recent period of AWOL-ness, I stepped away from real life for a couple weeks trotting around Europe, recouts of which will be posted shortly over at my non-marketing online self. Final thought: there’s an incredible untapped audience of tourists; watch this space.
Back into things though, and my Google Reader overflows with tech and marketing goodness (as well as more from Rod Stuart Loves The Hamptons of course). One post from Fred Wilson stood out for me: Streaming Kills Piracy. It’s a short take on how his son has taken to legitimate means of watching his favourite TV show rather than downloading episodes illeagally. It’s a classic case study in making the barrier to entry lower than the alternatives.
And then this morning, I came across this story in The Guardian which talks about a collapse in illegal sharing and a commensurate increase in legal streaming. The story says 26% of 14 to 18 year olds shared music illegally last month compared to 42% in December of 2007. The story also says 65% of teens stream music regularly.
‘Lo and behold, me and my generation of reprobates aren’t the thieving bastards old media had us pegged for. What you can count on however is a relentless dive to the easiest experience available. Yes, paid will always be a hurdle when positioned next to free, but instant compared to delayed is just as compelling, perhaps even more so.
Look at your own business. What are the barriers to entry that you can bring down?
Don’t believe the hype July 2, 2009Posted by David Gillespie in business strategy.
Tags: Australia, media, News Corporation, Newspaper, Rupert Murdoch
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I just finished working my way through a series of lectures given by Rupert Murdoch late last year on the future of media, something my good friend Jeremy Smart put me onto. The six-part series reveal a far more insightful and aware captain of industry than I think even Murdoch’s biggest fans would give him credit for. Waxing lyrical on everything from the impact of Craig’s List on newspaper classifieds to the educational needs of his birth country (Australia), Murdoch’s lectures show a man not wearied by age, instead acutely aware of where his media empire stands and thoroughly steadfast in his vision for a strong if dramatically altered future for news media, and for Western civilization itself.
Those not from Australia can perhaps skip the introductory lecture as it is fairly antipodean in focus; the remaining five though are candid and incredibly insightful, and will turn even the most hardened cynic into something of a believer in the boy who began his media career in Adelaide, one shoulder carrying the local paper, the other his father’s coffin. Do yourself a favour, and check them out.
It’s all about them words June 25, 2009Posted by David Gillespie in advertising, business strategy, marketing.
Tags: advertising, Google, Search engine optimization, Yellow Pages
A few years back I did a consulting gig on a print directory service everyone is familiar with. The project looked at how digital media was changing the landscape they existed in and they were interested in finding out how they could continue to be profitable while these changes happened. In the end the recommendation was to ensure migration from the offline service to the online one, and involved a strategy for doing so. Having delivered the final report however, the response came back stating their print directory represented X-million dollars of revenue so they expected it to still be a thriving business in years to come, regardless of what we had to say.
No prizes for guessing how that turned out.
I was reminded of this when I got home one day last week to see the below in the lobby of the building I’m living in at the moment.
Now, Yellow Pages wasn’t the company so desperate to display their desire to stick their head into the sand, however they must, at some point, have had someone have a similar conversation with them. Three years ago when I was doing that project I stood in the middle of my agency and asked the entire office who had used a print directory in the last 6 months. Unless I was willing to accept “door stop” as an appropriate use, I had nothing.
It used to be if you weren’t in the Yellow Pages you didn’t have a business. Now it’s a matter of being on Google‘s pages, and you best make sure its the first one. If I was advising a company still advertising in the Yellow Pages, I would tell them to take that spend and invest it in SEO, optimising its site for core competancies and locality.
Understand I don’t think it is a good thing that a once proud business is dying, but few things are more Darwinian than business itself; ignorance should not be rewarded, nor should an inability or unwillingness to change with the times.
And we definitely shouldn’t invest in delaying the inevitable.
All I wanna do is to thank you June 16, 2009Posted by David Gillespie in branding, business strategy, conversation, marketing.
Tags: Balzac's, coffee, customer service, Facebook, Starbucks, Wired Magazine
Readers who recall my 5 step marketing mantra will remember point 5 stated the most remarkable thing you can have is exceptional customer service. We’re sadly still in a place where a number of organisations don’t get this, due in large part to the customer service departments being seen as a necessary evil, a cost of doing business. As a result, the people staffing these roles are not empowered to simply solve problems and instead are hamstrung by rules designed to elicit the bare minimum of support; enough to keep the customers at the table but not nearly enough to actually make them happy to be there.
The contrast between the great and the not so great was rammed home for me recently thanks to a lousy experience with one of the world’s largest magazine publishers and one of the world’s smallest cafes. Those who know me know my love for coffee is wholly unbridled, bordering on obsessive. They will also know the outright contempt I hold for the Starbucks of the world, suffice to say North America is not David-friendly when it comes to my dark master.
Thankfully here in Toronto I have found Balzac’s, an independent coffee house which roasts its own beans and makes, quite simply, the best coffee I’ve had here so far. Having fallen in love with the store-bought goods I began ordering online, and when the first batch showed up, I was greeted with a hand-written card, offering up a 15% off code for my next order and a note about their Facebook application.
Let’s review that people:
- I already love the product
- They’re making it cheaper for me to get
- AND they’re offering me another way to interact with their brand.
Contrast this with Conde Nast, who told me, when my issue of Wired failed to appear (while my co-workers waltzed around with their’s) that I needed to wait 2 weeks before they could fulfill a missing order. Having waited patiently, I contacted them at the appropriate time to be told:
We are sorry to inform you that the issue you requested is no longer available.
To be fair, they then told me my subscription would be extended by an issue, but this is not the point. I understand magazines are having a hard time of it lately.
Can I suggest though the ways to innovate in your business model are not to deprive people of the thing they desire in the interests of saving a couple dollars.