First rule of first principle thinking, do not use first principle thinking when a mental model is available

Category: media2.0

Big Media vs Individual – Indian Media

Nikhil has spurred up an interesting conversation @ contentsutra about big media and individual content creators.Read the entire post and don’t miss out the comments section as it has pretty important thoughts.I have been following this debate in many places and now it’s spilled over to this side of the globe.

As much as I want just like Nikhil to hail ‘user generated content’ aka UGC (I dislike that term but using it for the lack of a better term) I certainly don’t think Indian media market is prime for it yet.The main reason for this is that the media value chain in India is the same as the older form of other media markets with the scarce part still being distribution and marketing. Put in another way media markets are still a function of distribution and content.  This is not directly observable but evidence for this could be seen through the still rising numbers of TV viewership (while elsewhere it is declining) and increase in average ad time.

Elaborating on this a little further the following two are the two main important reasons.

  • Slightly shifted supply curve

Technology is certainly driving down the cost of production but not much as it is still very expensive to create content ( creation devices such as cameras/recorders and bandwidth costs/horrid publising platforms/syndicators/aggregators). To think about it intuitively try to ascertain the ratio of  uploads/downloads that happen in any user generated sites specific to India.

  • Unmoved demand curve

Another most important aspect is the lack of demand for user generated content. In other media markets there was high demand for user generated media because consumers were saturated and tired of mass media.To think about it how many examples can be recounted that have come out in the last one year which is a user generated vide/audio/post which has caught the imagination of the Indian audience.

The new industry structure (promised through this UGC) that seems so exciting is possible only when the supply curve shifts considerably and the demand curve moves outwards so that we derive a new equilibirium and industry order.

No company can do much about the shifts in the demand curve except wait/prepare for the opportune time.   But the parameter that it has control over could be worked upon. But on the whole treating UGC as a yet another fad opportunity and trying to build a business through plain concept arbitrage in India might be extremely risky.

Some things mentioned in the post which I specifically do not agree with.

“There are innumerable instances of blogs with consistently great content”  – Quality on an average erodes with UGC but this is really not the point blogs will trump newspaper despite of that fact. Blogs on an average give better news experience is how I might put it.

“Life magazine shut offline publication in the US earlier this year” does not indicate anything about the Indian market, the media markets of developed country and developing countries are vastly different.

Property rights (fight for editorial space) as rightly put is certainly going to assume new meaning in this phase and it would be most fun to watch how this pans out.

gushing about slideshare

    One of the few things that I had seriously missed writing about in my blog absence was about slideshare.  I liked the service the very instant I looked at it and resolved that I MUST write about it the first chance I get to down to do any  writing on my blog. Back then when it was released I could not use it much but recently I got to play with it quite a bit and I liked it all the more.   By this time there has been a lot that has been said about it and probably what I write in this post may not be something new but still I am going to write about it as I love slideshare so much 🙂

The first thing that struck me when I started using it was what took it so long far something like this to come up.

Powerpoint was an accidental innovation and  it is  a form of new media type though it is never thought of that way. I don’t know who was the original creator of powerpoint but I think powerpoint is  one ingenious piece of innovation by itself though we all love to hate it. It is been long known that value of any media increases when it can be shared, co-experienced etc. And this is the important fact that was not thought about in the context powerpoints and that’s the key value add of slideshare. Some of things that really stand out is the feature of making the product inherently viral in nature (easy sharing in blogs), marketing it as the  “youtube for powerpoint”. Overall it leveraged a mix of market,networks &  communities to create value.

With slideshare being so well recieved the usual suspects like Google, Yahoo & Microsoft (GYM) would have long since fired their products division to build their own version of it. IMO this should not be cause of worry to slideshare as they are much ahead of the GYM in this game. The service has inherent networks effects built into it thus leading to a clear first mover advantage working in favour of them. So the best bet for any of these big players would be to acquire slideshare but from what I can say about the team at Uzanto they can grow this into a great independent business by itself. Given this it would be very exciting to watch out what unfolds in this space.

Slideshare picked a very important need which nobody else thought of addressing and built a great solution at a very low cost, marketed it extremely inexpensively and positioned themselves startegically very well amongst billion dollar/pound gorillas in a niche which could turn into a great beachead. IMHO entrepreneuers like me can learn great lessons from this and I would also say it is another great example of getting real.

Having said it all here some of my thoughts which I think could make slideshare stronger and better.

  • Should add capability create powerpoints on slideshare of itself. (MS should run scared when this day comes and thats exactly why I think MS should be the strongest contender for slideshare)
  • Or even before that allow ability to remix from uploaded powerpoints ( this one would be a huge value multiplier IMO ). For example I can create a new presentation from using the slide 2-6 of one powerpoint combined with slide 1, 3 9 of  another powerpoint. Well this would raise the ugly head of property rights issue which could become quite a bit of challenge but then is’nt that the real fun/interesting part of the media revolution that we are living in today.
  • Though I said powerpoint is an ingenius innovation but one has to admit that it is a crippled form of media , it is an inherent property of powerpoint and that is why I referred earlier that we all love to hate it. So giving some solution to fix that would just raise the bar extremely for the service. Let me elaborate this a little bit, any form of media (be it telephone, SMS, movies, radio, video, print ) can be broadly divided into three categories based on their modes of communication and different forms revel at different modes. These three modes are ‘information transfer’, ‘story telling’ & ‘presence’. Powerpoint was designed to excel at information transfer in a group context but they are real hits when they are used in the story telling mode. Folks like Guy Kawasaki, Cliff Atkinson got famous as presentation zens because of their techniques & tips  on how to use your ppts effectively in the story telling mode. To cut the long story short it is fairly obvious powerpoints are not suited for ‘presence’ but is predominantly used for ‘information sharing’ but if designs can be added into slideshare which can turn into a great storytelling tool in addition to oiling the existing ‘information sharing’ functionality then it would be even more wonderful.

To sort of sum up Slideshare might not reach the extreme(crazy) heights of what youtube did the reason being quite obvious which has to do with nature of medium involved. The power of video (presence & story telling) is much stronger than that  of powerpoint ( information sharing & possibly story telling)  but there is no doubt in my mind  that slideshare would go on to become one very big hit and I  wish them all the best 🙂

Blogcamping

I will be camping at Blogcamp in Chennai and listen to tales of  the very early stage of media 2.0 in India. Hope to learn a lot and also have fun. blogcamp

Blogcamp – About Media 2.0 and India

I would be most likely attending Blogcamp in Chennai. It aims to be the biggest blogger meet in the country so far.

 

 

As I much as I dislike everybody suffixing a 2.0 to everything that they can I am very much guilty myself propogating 2.0 memes. Blogcamp though loosely defines the topic/ theme as blogging, citizen journalism, podcasting , vlogs etc IMHO it should have a theme titled “Media 2.0 in India”. And that is exactly why it is interesting and very exciting for me. I am a technologist who follow things from an economic point of view and that has led me to reach out to these fascinating changes happening in the media industry. Here you would find my brain fart on the same a topic (media2 & India) posted a while ago.

But this is a very theoretical approach to the whole thing. Blog camp promises to gather people who have been in the media space for long or have experienced the new media first hand. Many of these folks are those understand a lot of these things in an intuitive way. So it is going to be quite fun watching & learning from these people.

Rebundling Media by BBC

      If there is one big corporation that understand the deep changes that are taking place in the mediascape and also embracing those changes and preparing itself for the new world order then it has to be the BBC. (Fox comes second and is way behind even with Myspace in its kitty)

      Launching of Audience created stations by BBC is another steps which shows that it steadily moving in the right path. Now according to the old control-everything-mindset of thinking this could be the most blasphemous thing to do but it is reallya  brilliant move.   Many are & will be baffled by this as one commenter says in adrant forum says.  

      “Im also wondering how BBC user controlled broadcasting is going to work – will the user controlled stations compete for Search Engine and Broadcast share with the BBC itself? Will listeners and viewers find themselves listening to a user generated BBC news station over the regular BBC? Will users mix their own news with the BBC news feed”

 
     Some time ago the BBC opened up their content and now they have provided the tools to rebundle them and it is as simple as that.

    IMO Others in the industry will sit up and take notice on what the beeb is doing  but will take very long to actually embrace the changes in the media landscape.

     Btw to understand why what BBC did makes a ton of sense read this post by  John hagel’s on future of media. It can’t be explained in more elucidating way.

Myspace to India

 

      Just came across this news Myspace to expand to 11 countries and that  includes India. My previous post Media 2.0 & India seems to be appropriately timed.

Is India ready for Media 2.0 ?

          I had been chewing this thought for a few weeks now in my head, there is so much discussion about the rise of the new media all over the developed parts of the world but is this new baby been given birth to in India.

          A question that is been nagging me since long is that are these talked abou changes relevant to India. I have been trying to find data or pointers which could be supporting evidence to this.  By the way what do people mean when they say 2.0 ?  How much of any of web 2.0 , media 2.0, publishing 2.0 etc is applicable to India.? Before I delve into India and Media 2.0 let me explain a little about what is meant by media 2.0. 

Loosely this term refers to an economic change (I like the word inflection :)) affecting how media is being produced & consumed. These is brought out by changes in technology of how people produce and consume media and also how preferences of consumers are changed.

 
           Let me explain a little bit further there was not a time too far ago when our only way of consuming media was through channels which were TV/Radio/Theatres etc. In this world the most powerful person in the media value chain was the one who controlled the distribution as that was the most expensive (exhorbitant license fees, huge setup costs etc) asset. It turned out that in such a dynamics that those who market the best could get the best returns. So in this world there was clamour for amassing the best marketing armor.  Also in this dynamic it became evident that irrespective of how good media content is produced, if you had big marketing muscle power you could get away with highest returns. Also producing good media  was naturally expensive and risky ( there are so many big production budgets which have bombed). This more or less explains why some of the current big media players are so big  what triggers the reasons for the M&A happening in this space.

      What is happening  now is due to change in technologies distribution & production dynamics are changing in a big way.  Players in the market who find that they are better off doing more marketing than making better films they do not have incentive to do good production. This leaves a bad taste with the consumers on this and drives them away from the mass media (shift in consumer preferences)

       What this causes is a drop in the equilibirium price of media industry because of the change in supply & demand. ( To be a little bit more technical  , supply & demand curve are both pushed outwards leading to drop in equilibirium price).  Now this is happening in the developed world and there is a lot of data supporting the above arguments. What I am trying to do is to gather data for India on which I could do this analysis. (Does anyone have any pointer, it would greatly appreciatd). I saw this but it was of not much help

     On the contrary what I find is that there is data supporting that the Indian media industry is still deep rooted in Media 1.0 world. Not single media company has got even a  whiff of media 2.0. Still the most of these companies are buying TV , Billboard media space, rights from Barbie/Chitrakatha/Dhoni blah blah and are happily singing the ‘content is the king’ tune.

      Thus while Murdoch buys Myspace and BBC opens up its content for people to do anything that they want mauj buys righs from sachin ( & interestingly sequoia funds it too ).   This is what has been puzzling me for a while now, are these changes(economic) to happen slowly to India or is it that it is already hit us with its force and it is that we (industry) are not reacting/adapting to the changes. 

       In all this what I find very hard to believe is that no one seems to be even remotely talking about it (even in the blogosphere -? ).  Even desipundit.com does not impress me here, which I think is a fairly good Indian media 2.0 example.

        In the rest of the world there is fair share of visionaries, smart bunch of people who recognize this changes and pushing the boundary of think in the 2.0 space notably Stowe boyd, John Hagel, Clay Shirky, Scott Karp, Umair Haque, Jeff Jarvis.  Where are the Indian counterparts ?

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