Contrast something like the New York Times web presence with CNN. Both have a large overlap in content and mission. But while the Times is arguing over pay walls vs. free, CNN has no trouble providing the same news for free. They have commentary from smart people, video, news alerts, lots of areas of interactivity. I don't like it all, but there's just so much more going on, on cnn.com. When I hear about something big going on, I don't go to newyorktimes.com, I go to cnn.com. Or other tv networks - Fox News and MSNBC (pick your side!) also have better websites than most major newspapers. Why should this be? Even aside from video content, the majority is text, generated in house or from wire, and they are obviously superior to the Newspaper sites.
And the newspaper wants to start charging? Why on earth would I ever pay for that, instead of using cnn.com?
They can cry all they want about losing, but it's really not that they were taken advantage of, it's that they squandered the inherent advantage of entrenched position, others either didn't (cable news) or new players stepped in and took the space (Google, blogs taking over editorial commentary very well, the rise of websites doing original reporting like Talking Points Media). The game's not over - there's a market for good journalists, and people still consume news. But I suspect good journalists will collect a paycheck from CNN and MSNBC, or from one of hundreds of independent organizations, and less so from newspapers, in the future.
It'll all work out. We'll still have a free press, original reporting will still happen. Possibly with more corporate masters, possibly with less, certainly with different. Painful for those that don't survive the transition, to be sure, but for those of us who don't get a paycheck from the newspaper industry, it's not really going to be a big problem. I hope that everyone who does bounces back quickly.
People are imperfect at always predicting what the hits will be. The longer tail stores can stock the products expected to be specialty, but sometimes they'll become bonafide hits, and I think that's where the long tail really has an advantage. Everyone knows that Halo 3 will sell a lot of copies. Nobody knew that Katamari Damacy would become a phenomenon and show up on game of the year lists, and a lot of brick and mortar retailers missed out on sales to Amazon on that truly remarkable title.
Not to mention the satisfaction gap. I'm not surprised or particularly excited when I can buy Halo 3 at Wal*Mart or Amazon. But when I can get the hot item that is sold out everywhere and the kid at the Game*Stop hasn't heard of, I'm very happy with that store. I instantly have feelings of brand loyalty. Next time, I look at Amazon.com first before wasting my time running all over town looking for something that isn't A-list.
(I've focused on video games, because that's the example in my head, but applies to other products as well.)
You just can't get a copy of Harry Potter translated into Latin at your Barnes and Noble, and there's someone out there that'll be just thrilled to find it at Amazon.
As a computer programmer, I tend to hate it. Programming is inherently about juggling a dozen or so ideas at once, and losing focus can just be devastating. A 2 minute interruption - whether it's phone or IM or in person - can realistically cost a half-hour of productivity. Or worse, cause you to forget things and introduce bugs. This is why good programmers like to work from home - not so they can slack off, but so they can enter the zone and not be disturbed. It's the only way to do actually hard work.
Not everything I do requires the hyper focus, of course, and IM is just fine if I'm writing docs or doing research or even for most bug fixing. And it's hard to really convey to someone who hasn't ever done a serious coding project exactly what's going on when you're getting things done. It's not entirely unlike writing a term paper, where you're thinking, "I've got to make sure and support this claim in the next section, come back and make this part flow later, I know there's a good quote to add here..." only more so. You end up holding large portions of code flow in your head that aren't yet written, necessary to see where you're going, and this tends to be very hard to sustain while doing something else. So, the IM and Email have to go off, phone off the hook. Door shut would be excellent, if you're lucky enough to not be in a cube.
Very few jobs are like this, and in fact most days my job isn't like this, but when it is, I'm really not kidding. And so few non-programmers I've worked with, even my own managers, understand this. The correct way to deal with this is "Hey, come get me when you have a minute. This is (urgent|important|somewhat important|by the end of the day|)." And then leave. There _are_ natural breaks, when the mental stack gets emptied out and it's no big deal to emerge intact, and usually within half an hour.
I imagine there are other jobs that work like this, with the need for periods of intense concentration. A lot of scientists are probably familiar with this.
Well, Amazon does actually already rent movies for $3.99 and TV Episodes for $1.99. This is a little bit too high, but that's just a pricing problem. The technology that you both are wishing for is actually already implemented today, and isn't subtle on the unbox.amazon.com site.
Of course, TiVo users are the least likely to be buying TV Episodes - it's very rare that something goes wrong and I miss an episode of a show I really care $2 about. But I could see paying $4 for a new movie occasionally, if it comes fairly quickly to my TiVo in high definition. I'm already paying for my NetFlix account, so it's really not efficient to do this often, but if friends are over, and we all want to watch Little Miss Sunshine or something, sure, it beats driving to the video store.
If only it were $2 for a movie rental... but the $14.99 pricepoint is a bit of a red herring for this, I imagine the vast majority of Tivo purchases will be rentals.
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