Friday, August 31, 2007

NBC To Pull Shows from iTunes

I'm sad today, because I just found out that come December, I won't be able to watch Battlestar Galactica anymore. Oh NBC will still be airing new episodes, and it will be available on SciFi, but NBC announced today that they will be pulling their content from iTunes.

See here's my problem. I'm a new father. I work full time. This leaves me precious little time to spend on entertainment. That time doesn't necessarily fall Friday nights at 10:00pm. I know, I should just get digital cable and a TiVo. However a digital cable runs me about $50 / month, and a minimum 1yr TiVo contract is another $300. That's $900 / year (plus taxes, fees, media access charges, etc) to watch what, maybe 24 episodes? That's about $37 per episode. I can wait until the season is over and buy the episodes on DVD, but that's a long time to wait.

No offense, but I preferred the $2 I paid to get each episode off iTunes the day after it aired. (Even cheaper if you get a season pass).

Media companies are facing a hard future. And they seem to be ignoring basic economics.

Demand is Dropping
I have limited time and dollars to spend on entertainment. Frankly, there's just a lot more compelling entertainment options out there today than a decade ago. In the olden days before the internet, you had basically Television, Movies, Books Music, and the Arts. Today you have YouTube, World of Warcraft, Facebook, Xbox, PS3s, Wiis, the list goes on. The overall supply of entertainment is increasing, and as a result, demand for any one of the options will be diluted.

Faced with falling demand, the large media companies are desperately trying to cling to their old profit margins the only way they know how, try and wring every last dime out of anyone they can. Yet this is exactly the wrong thing to do, as any first year Economics student will tell you. If you have infinite supply, and you want to raise demand, you lower prices.

I like Battelstar Galactica, but after the birth of our first child, I canceled our cable subscription. I just don't have the time to sit down and watch television anymore. Somehow I don't think I'm alone in this decision. The shows I really do enjoy, I try and buy off iTunes and watch them here and there as I find time. I'll be sad if I can no longer watch these shows because large media companies feel I'm not giving them enough money. It looks like instead of getting $2 per episode out of me, they'll be getting zero. Oh well, I have a lot of good books to catch up on.

It looks like Apple decided to just cancel NBC's contract now, rather than leave consumers with only half a season. Just another example of Apple looking at things from a constomer perspective. Wouldn't it be great if more companies did that?

Apple's Press Release on the topic.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Adobe vs. the printshops

&Adobe has been taking a lot of flak over the past few weeks for it's decision to include a 'Send to FedEx Kinkos' button on its 8.1 update for Adobe Reader / Acrobat Pro.  Well on August 1st Adobe apparently blinked and agreed to remove the link in an upcoming release
Adobe originally announced the FedEx Kinko's features on June 6, 2007 and decided to remove them from Adobe Reader and Acrobat following a meeting and getting feedback from print service providers. Moving forward Adobe is setting up a Print Advisory Council to investigate how best to integrate third party print services into Adobe products, as more partners invest in online print infrastructures.
Adobe's solution, to remove the button and let Kinko's distribute a special version with the button in it partly solves the problem.  I think a better solution would have been to develop a framework for letting the small printers get in on the built in action.  Imagine a 'find local printers' option in Acrobat, type in your zip code, and see a list of participating printers in your area.  Adobe could provide a server framework for receiving print jobs, and each local printer would have the option of either managing their own server for receiving jobs, or work with Adobe and use Adobe's servers.

It wouldn't be easy. It would be a lot of work on Adobe's part, as well as for the local printer.  Making sure the local printer has the capabilities to handle the submitted job would be difficult, but there are a lot of smart people at Adobe.  I think this approach would be a better balance between Adobe's two customer bases than their current solution of removing the button all together.  Granted, Kinko's will now be distributing their own version of Reader, but that ends up being less convenient for the content producers, who would have to download a special version, rather than the one they get from Adobe.

The print shop industry needs to start thinking differently about the marketplace as we move into an ever more networked world.  The print industry needs to take a lesson from the music industry.  Fighting technology and making life more difficult for your customers is not a winning strategy in the long run.  

Change is difficult, but rather than kicking and screaming about how Adobe hates the little guy, they should be looking at 'how can I get in on this so I can make things easier for my customers too?'