Our Digital Crossroads
Over the past few years, we’ve seen a shift from what we know as your typical computer. A few years ago (heck all the way back to the Apple II), computers, more or less, took the same form; A monitor, CPU, with a mouse and keyboard. Recently, with the onslaught of touch screen smartphones, we’ve seen a convergence of computers and mobile phones. This blurs the all-to-familiar lines, effectively creating a separate market for each. How we are consuming content is changing just as much.
The Digital Content Road We’ve Travelled
It started when the web became (semi)mainstream back in the late 90’s. A new form of ever-changing content was available and quickly caught on. People were consuming content in a whole different way. But it was the Wild West, there were very little standards to utilize. Everyone was now a legitimate content creator on the world wide web. But the only way for people to consume this new content was either sitting in front of a desktop or with a wired connection to a laptop. It wasn’t a solution that was convenient or on their terms. Then came the introduction of wireless routers. This was just a taste of freedom, a “taste maker” if you will. It offered people the ability to consume content more on their terms, but not completely. Enough to make them hungry for more. The latest hurdle comes in the form of legislation threatening Net Neutrality, letting companies price and tier the internet depending on your location and sites you visit. While the bill is worded carefully to seemingly close a lot of holes, it opens plenty more loopholes for companies to take advantage of. A few responses to the bill: Steve Wozniak’s Response to the FCC. Al Franken’s declaration to not support new FCC bill.
Importance of an Open and Mobile Internet
Being connected abroad is much more important today than it used to be. What you can do with that connection is changing every day. New markets are emerging and new content and services are taking different forms to accommodate. Innovation is taking over with the freedom to create in a wider space.
Where Are We Headed?
We are beginning to see the niche split already. Down the road, smart phones, tablets and desktop computers will separate their niches even more, to what degree is debatable. Clearly defined niches will appear: one more for content creation, the other for content consumption.
Current Trends – Intimacy
Current trends can be telling as well. We are seeing much more intimate ways of interacting with content. We can now touch our content and have it recognize us when we step in front of our television. Some great touch interfaces come in the form of Apple iPhones & iPads, Motorola Droid X, HTC Evo, etc. This year Microsoft responded to the Wii’s success with Kinect, a camera accessory for it’s Xbox that tracks your movements and allows for interactions based on body movement. During the D8 conference this past summer, Steve Jobs defined PCs as trucks, relating the PC industry to the Auto industry. “All cars were trucks because that’s what you needed on the farm,” he said. Now trucks are one in 25 to 30 vehicles sold, he said. “PCs are going to be like trucks. They will still be around.” He added, “This transformation is going to make some people uneasy.”
Proof of Influence
How we consume our content and it’s influence can be seen in recent events. Emerging markets, market shifts, and disappearing markets are proof that change is happening. An example of an emerging market can be seen in Apple’s iPad. The increase in ebook and e-reader sales now encompasses 15% of total book sales can be viewed as shifting markets. The slowly dying netbooks industry shows the overlapping devices tend to fall in the canyon first as the markets separate.
Midst of Change
There’s no doubt that we’re in a period of change in how we consume our content. Factors in the tech industry that influence change can be ever changing. One thing is for sure, consumers have the end say with their wallets. As dedicated content creators in this space, Force 5 will be watching closely.