Sunday, April 12, 2009

The newspaper paradox resolved. Newspapers are a low hanging fruit for Print

The conversation over at Harvard's Nieman Journalism Lab is getting to clarity on the "newspaper problem." After years of discussion, realities on the ground are merging with the new thought models that indicate the next steps.

Today's post is by Matthew Ingram, the title is
Why Nick Carr is wrong on Google as a middleman for news
: "After seeing recommendations on Twitter from Clay Shirky and others, I was expecting a tour de force from author and former Harvard Business Review editor Nick Carr, but I confess that I found his post on Google as middleman — and its effect on newspapers — disappointing. Not just because the middleman comparison is one that has been made repeatedly over the past couple of years, and therefore doesn’t really add much to the conversation, but also because I think he is wrong. . ..
The post goes on, and is well worth the time to read in full" Anyway, at comment 13, I added my two cents,
Clay Christensen describes the change from a value chain commercial model to a facilitated user network commercial model. When the world was defined by asymmetric information, the supply was limited and guarded, the econ 101 argument makes sense. Turn off the spigot of supply and prices go out. That was the Standard Oil model at the turn of the century.

But once information is symmetric, controlling information as a business strategy won’t work.

The way I look at it, there are three elements of a user network. The OEM - original equipment manufacturer. The OPM - the original product manufacturer. The VAR - the value added reseller.

The internet is the original equipment that is the infrastructure for information distribution. It is built by commercial entities AND mostly by prosumers. News-on-paper is a locally delivered original product. Everybody who wants to make money in the information business is either an OPM or a VAR.

Google is an OPM by creating a web advertising platform. To make alot of money from advertising on the web means gigantic scale. No newspaper can use CPM of CPC to make serious money, because they can’t get to scale.

So that leaves OPM- local news, and news-on-paper, invent new stuff that people want to buy and VAR, curate the appropriate news for people who are interested at that time in those stories.

After many years of very expensive development, the Print industry is ready. This is the year that the output equipment is ready for prime time. The 800 lb gorilla is HP. The 100 lb fox is Oce. The dark horse is DaiNippon. Maybe Ricoh/Infoprint is ready to enter the ring. Kodak is coming along with Stream and they do have MicroZone, but I'm concerned that they are going to miss the starting bell. The prize is a global reinvented newspaper industry.

It's worth remembering that the first revolutionary product of print was not the book, it was the "newspaper." Books were invented thousands of years before Guttenberg. He just invented a better, cheaper, faster way of making books. The truly disruptive innovations were pamphlets, then human powered Print, then steam powered Print. Once Print decreased the time and increased the space of information delivery, the real world changed.

What will be done, has been done. There is nothing new under the sun. Just new ways to do the same old things. That's the point of the printernet, Ground > Cloud > Print. Anywhere.

FYI - textbooks for K-12 are next to go . . .

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