Friday, January 11, 2013

11 of 95: Not so fast, mister!

11. People in networked markets have figured out that they get far better information and support from one another than from vendors. So much for corporate rhetoric about adding value to commoditized products.

[Part 10]

There is an easy way to write this thesis, and that is to just write "file sharing". Just those two words.

I sense we might need to be indirect about this. For reasons of clarity and pedagogy.

What is information? one might indirectly ask. And should you choose to venture out into the vastness of literature on the subject, you would find that you can pretty much pick and choose among the various definitions. There's enough of them for everyone, and then some.

The fact that you can venture out there (most likely starting on Wikipedia) is in and of itself a revolutionary thing. You no longer have to wait for the company, the experts or any particular institution to provide you with a prepackaged morsel of information. You can venture, instead.

File sharing is the transfer of information. Communication, if you want. Don't let the fact that it is faster, cheaper and more efficient than other forms of information transfer/communication cloud your mind - it's exactly the same thing as it's always been.

Only faster, cheaper and more efficient.

This is bad news bears for those businesses relying on the premise that communication will remain slow, expensive and inefficient. At least slow, expensive and inefficient enough that ordinary people like you and me won't bother with the whole venturing business. Slow, expensive and inefficient enough that those who deal in prepackaged morsels of information are perceived as the only feasible mean of getting the word out there.

Tell me, have you bought a CD lately?

Ten (or twenty) years ago, CDs were the de facto standard of moving music around. You could compress a whole lot of audio quality into a small package, and you could do it on such a scale that it made economic sense to do so. And, since no one else could do the same thing at the same scale, you could charge a whole lot of money for it - the prize of a CD has very little to do with material costs, to be sure. Especially at larger scales.

These days, the sales of CDs are down. Due to the fact that they are inefficient carriers of information - no matter how many of them you haul on to an ever so fast airplane, the speed of light is faster than that. And the speed of this internet thing of ours is pretty much working at such speeds, especially as you get closer to the network backbone.

And why should people buy CDs? Other than the nostalgia value, no value is added to the physical object other than the physical object in itself. And you can get a piece of plastic a lot cheaper than what they're charging.

Should you like a particular musician enough, then it is well within your venture capabilities to look them up and give them a donation. Not just once, but as many times as you like.

It goes without saying that if you base your business on the sales of CDs, this might pose a problem to your business model.

For the rest of us, who suddenly are able to venture far and wide into the collected writings and recordings of humanity, this increase the speed of information transfer is a good thing. And it takes a certain kind of slowness to not see it as such.

Even if a few business models may have to change along the information highway to the future.

I'll see you tomorrow for part twelve.

No comments:

Post a Comment