The Age of Transparency Part One – Changing Media

Casual computing and access to social media has radically altered our perception of media. We have gone from one channel with several voices to thousands of channels and hundreds of millions of voices in eighty years.

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The birth of social media

 Unlike traditional media, whose purpose is to provide temporary spin and keep you fixed to one channel (don’t touch that dial), social media is an ongoing dialogue that beckons you to explore and connect with an increasing number of social streams. With web 2.0, we’ve fractured a singular narrative of the old media, but there remain many people unsure of the benefits. I’m talking about the holdouts of social media, and I can understand their fears and prejudice about the whole thing.  I’ve heard a lot of reasons, but most of them refer to an invasion of privacy and the time wasting elements.

I would agree that at their core, advertising and revenue creation are the long term goal of most of these networks, but in return, they are providing a communications service free of charge. The concern of wasting time relates to how effectively one manages it, but more so, how they organize their consumption of information. Yes you can hang out on twitter all day, but you can also flip channels on the TV and waste huge wads of time with unplanned viewing. In the same way, some people can waste time reading news stories of their friend’s updates on Facebook for example, but I see the news feed as an aggregator of news from many different publications that I follow.

The privacy thing is a bigger issue, but here’s my greatest single argument for taking part in social media. I can represent myself the way I want to. I have control over the content I output – giving you less room to infer things about me that may not be true.  Even more, I can have a dialogue with you that could change your perspective or mine. Depending on what I choose to share, you can get to know me on an intimate level without ever meeting me in person. Taking this a step further, if you podcast yourself or create video blogs, I may end up hearing your voice more than close friends of mine because my daily commute or gym time is accompanied by your show.

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On Demand Media

It took a while – YouTube has been around for eight years now, but user generated content has now become an industry – several popular YouTube channels bring in six figures in annual revenue. Now, with the advent on Netflix people are dropping cable TV subscriptions. The reduction in signal “noise” is significant with the reduction of inane advertisements and old school broadcast news.

The cure for information overload?

People are aggregating their news from multiple web sites  and from their friend’s curated posts every day now. You’ve heard the main news story of the day by 10 am, so why watch the same thing with scripts, advertisements and celebrity driven news when you get home at 6 pm?

“stay tuned” for part 2…

Saving Rim, Part 3: NokiaSoft

Blackberry is in the news again, this time for not getting bought by Microsoft.

We all know the story of Blackberry, if not, here’s the recap. An innovative Canadian upstart that captured the cellphone market with QWERTY keyboards and enterprise ready email integration. One of the first true smartphones and choice of business’s all over the world. Like all great things, imitation was the purest form of flattery and Palm and Microsoft began nipping at the champs heals. Finally Apple jumped in and changed the game for everyone.

RIM wasn’t worried though. Perhaps they should have been.

Palm (remember them?) floundered and was swallowed up by HP, then sacrificed to the tablet god. Blackberry began its slow decline right thought its own tablet attempt and face lift. At this point Blackberry was seen as your dad’s phone, sturdy but incompetent in the new world of Facetime and Facebook.  Despite the heavy marketing effort to signal otherwise, RIM could not make up for a lack of R&D and the  giant technological eco-systems from Apple and Google.

Microsoft stalled on a few devices, trying to perfect the Windows phone which they didn’t really do it until they found a partner with Nokia. At that point, Blackberry and Microsoft partnership seemed like a good idea, Microsoft’s RT wasn’t cutting it, neither was Blackberry’s OS system… Palms OS was dead and Nokia’s ancient Symbian was freshly buried.

The Genius of Nokia. The last maker of Dumbphones.

The Nokia CEO made the right call to partner with Microsoft. The developing world is the largest growth market left to conquer. Nokia has the best penetration worldwide and at the price points needed to serve these regions. Blackberry would have always demanded a premium and would have stayed that way to preserve it’s model. So when looking for a partner to grab the #3 market share, Microsoft had two options. A) High value, small segment B) Medium / low value + huge segment, and went with the latter.

Microsoft and Nokia are playing the long game, the global one.

In the end I know Nokia was a better deal for Microsoft’s global plans but as a proud Canadian and a business person, it would have been really interesting to see Microsoft resources reinvigorate Blackberry. I think Microsoft would have gained some fresh perspective and a leg up on their tablet game and found a natural partner for their office suite of software. No one knows what’s next for Blackberry (other then an eventual sale), perhaps Microsoft is so big they will have the cash leftover for a purchase, but I doubt they would want the headache at this time.

Companies with a lot of cash that want to play the cellphone game and market to the business and enterprise sector might see Blackberry as a logical extension of their brand – I’m looking at you Sony.