A very familiar scenario could be about to play out.
A decade ago the music industry was reeling from the sudden loss of revenue thanks to the likes of Napster and other peer-to-peer networks. Free downloads were “robbing” music publishers of sales. They got aggressive, sued individuals for downloading and chased Napster into oblivion but the fact remained that the music industry hadn’t kept up wit the changing digital landscape and didn’t have a model for the 21st Century.
Then along came Apple with the iPod and the iTunes store. They made it easy, legal and affordable to download music and quickly struck deals with almost every music publisher. A new model was created. It wasn’t necessarily as lucrative for the publishers but it kept them alive and in the game.
Fast-forward a decade. Newspapers are losing readers and their online content is being passed around and indexed by all and sundry. The big players are screaming blue murder as they accuse the likes of Google and news aggregation sites of being thieves and “parasites”. Rupert Murdoch is making threats about not allowing Google to index his news sites and beginning to build pay-walls.
Like the music industry, the press hasn’t prepared well for the 21st Century digital reality and haven’t yet designed a successful model to replace or co-exist with their very lucrative old model.
Seems familiar doesn’t it?
But wait, who’s that on the horizon? Its Steve Jobs. And he’s holding a new toy called the iSlate (probably). His new gadget allows us to quickly access and read vast amounts of text in a much friendlier way than a smartphone, and in many more locations than a PC. It allows us to subscribe to our favourite magazines, journals and papers quickly, easily and cost-effectively. Its like a Kindle, but with so many more uses.
Oh, and he’s done deals with a whole bunch of publishers to get the ball rolling.
Rumours abound that Apple is set on redefining print with the iSlate / iTablet just as they redefined music publishing with the iPod / iTunes concept. Several large publishers are allegedly rushing to get their products to iTunes, whilst magazine publishers have been filing into Apple’s Cupertino headquarters.
I might be wrong but there’s a very big chance that Apple is about to save print media.
What do you think, is history about to repeat itself?