Sunday, January 6, 2008

Convergence of print and technology

A recent discussion a friend and I had involved around industrial change leading to the erosion of one industry while sparking the growth of the other. He noted that Alan Greenspan called this "creative destruction". And examples abound including train to plane, the horse drawn carriage to the automobile, radio to TV, even the wired phone to wireless.

So looking at new products like Kindle and the iPhone, the thought comes when will technology change so much that our preference will be to prefer the video screen over the newspaper. I still recall how my decision to find movie times switched from looking it up in the paper to going on-line; at some point, the PC was on full time, the boot up was faster, and the time it took to look up movie locations and times was faster on the internet.

As screens get slimmer and better quality, and perhaps are made of materials that can fold out, we will find ourselves moving away from the printed page completely and onto these wireless devices to effortlessly read and enjoy content. Technology will become tactically preferable that will will take it over newsprint. No more black ink on our fingers; future generations won't understand this phenomenon. Like when photocopying replaced mimeograph and we no longer smelled the ink of the paper when these sheets were passed out in school. And this change has repercussions. Paper manufacturing, production, and distribution are effected and jobs are lost. Certainly the environment improves with less trees to cut down, but newspaper and magazine stands need to morph into something else.

Kindle and the iPhone seem to represent the first generation of this opportunity. Wireless download of content, ease of use, and readability. It can only get better. As consumers, we thrive on new content and so jobs will be created to write and film and produce and distribute. Newspapers and magazines can bring us print and video content to our individual screens; brand, integrity, credibility still matter. Programming and marketing across multiple media to create demand and desire. And so Fox buys the Wall Street Journal and NBC takes Access Hollywood onto the web. Convergence abounds. It is necessary to stake a claim on multiple fronts. The print and TV world is changing and those companies that are placing their mark across all platforms have the greatest chance to remain strong.