Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Digital Media predictions for 2008

2008 will be the year the perfect (fire) storm starts doing some real damage.

It’ll be the year in which traditional companies finally react to the alarm bells they’ve heard ringing since the turn of the century – and start shuffling towards the fire exits.

Trouble is, the flames are already licking around their heels.

They’ve heard the consultants, they’ve read the books. Even McKinsey looks like it’s finally read Wikinomics (if not the Cluetrain Manifesto and Communities Dominate Brands).

So I think the biggest economic shift we’ll see in 2008 is the rapid acceleration of old money being invested in the networked world. And they are going to need guidance to get it right. Practical, how-to stuff. (Maybe they should read this before they reach for their wallets).

So in 2008 it will no longer be about the What, it’ll be about the How.

But before we get into that, a quick review of my predictions for 2007 – so you get some idea of how large a pinch of salt you'll need to take the following with.

Those 2007 predictions in full (my comments on them in italics)

1) Access to the internet via mobile will surpass 40% of all internet use (globally).
Yes. 1-for-1. It was 25% in 2006. Now it's up to ??% (Morgan Stanley are predicting that this year 3G users will overtake fixed broadband subscriber numbers). The google-driven Android alliance is going to push this still harder. Half the world now has a mobile phone – and that’s not something you can say of the PC. The dominance of this new pervasive computing will shift how we think about everything.

2) A UK national newspaper will close its print operation. And a series of one-time print only magazine brands will become digital only (pick a number between 25 and 100).
No. Can’t give you chapter and verse on this. It hasn’t happened in my back yard. It still feels like it might.

3) Broadcast TV on your mobile will become commonplace. Sky will offer it as a bolt-on upgrade to your home services.
Yes. Even down to the Sky offer

4) Microsoft/Google/Yahoo (one or all) will launch a mobile phone.
Yes-but-no-but-yes (Android is the closest we’ve got to this)

5) All mobile operators in the UK will follow 3 and offer fixed price mobile internet access.
Yes. Even 02 is offering this in packages for the I-Phone now

6) A mobile operator will seek the edge by launching a fixed price for all services (ie £40 a month for all-you-can-eat internet, voice, text, mms...TV(?)
Not quite. Virgin is closest with a broadband, TV home phone and mobile package for (you guessed it) £40 a month. If only they’d thrown in all mobile data.

7) More than 10% of internet users will blog.
Almost. It’s actually reached 8%.., come on world… you’re lagging!

8) A citizen-journalism TV channel made up entirely of video shot on and uploaded from mobile phones will launch.
Yes. Flashbox TV did exactly this.

9) TV on demand will revolutionise how you consume TV and send advertisers into a blind panic.
Yes (for me it has!) I think this is widely recognized now, and my viewing has changed. Has yours?

10) A slow-burn campaign for users to claim back their digital identities will turn to a riot of noise by the end of the year...
Evidence so far: The response to Facebook Beacon, the UK Government losing ‘our data’, increasing influence on services which only use your data while you are using them.

All in all, not too bad I reckon. How rose-tinted are my spectacles? Post your comments n the usual way.

So given my track record so far – take the following with a pinch, dose or truck load of salt depending on your PoV! I’ll try to offer a concrete-ish example in each case so we can say whether they did or didn’t happen when it comes time to reviewing them at the end of next year!

10 Digital Media predictions for 2008

1) Aggregation will be the key buzz word in media. The BBC’s beta homepage let’s you take control of how you view their content. By the end of the year they’ll ‘get’ that you can’t maintain a reputation as a ‘destination’ in the networked world unless your node is strengthened by its connections to others.
Example: Expect a BBC-curated collection of externally created (including, UGC) feeds and widgets. And this will prove the model – allied to a wide range of social, community-driven functionality, that emerges from established media brands.

2) The new advertising: This is the year in which engagement marketing will finally start taking significant chunks of spend. Mobile is already leading the way with a successful start for Blyk.
Example: Expect forward-thinking traditional companies to set up units to specifically make money with EM. Expect new companies to set up to do this alone. Crash course in EM here. People might even start understanding how viral works

3) Talking of which…Widgets. Widgets play to both the aggregation trend AND the engagement marketing trend. Widgets just had their first conference (Widgety Goodness). Widgets rule Facebook. Widgets carry the promise of widgetising ourselves! Imagine a widget which carries your personal ID – your data - which you can plug into a site as and when you wish – and take with you when you leave. You want your data back? You got it!
Example: Expect to see the likes of google, nokia, Microsoft acquiring widget makers and the engagement thinkers behind them. The digitization of the web disaggregates discreet pieces of information. RSS allows the user to re-aggregate. Widgets lower the technical barrier so everyone can be their own aggregator. And in that context, it’s going to accelerate…

4)A shift in thinking away from the url as destination and towards search as navigation.
Example: Ads in other media will stop carrying urls – more will refer to places to look for services (eg use Macdonalds calorie counter on Facebook Mobile....

5) And talking of Facebook… I think it’ll emerge that Microsoft’s dabble with Facebook is less about cracking digital advertising – more about the future of the desktop – the future of computing itself.
Example: I dunno – Microsoft’s replacement for vista comes across like a newsfeed?!?

6) Tools will emerge to allow online videos to end their TV envy.
Example: Tools which allow everyone to mash up video, add comments into/over the video stream, save and share their own versions... all with technical barriers low enough to be used by anyone (just like commenting on a blog!). These will be available in/on engagement marketing widgets, viral efforts and YouTube itself. And finally 'rich' media will no longer be poor.

7) Games consoles and game user interfaces will have increasing influence on the UI of both hardware and web experiences. This will feed into the design of services for mobile and web.
Example: Expect the fall of the traditional mobile phone nine-number interface, and a pc without a qwerty keyboard.

8) Celebrity will take a dip. Once we talked to neighbours about neighbours. Our friends were the gossip, our friends were the news. Then community took a kicking from the interruption of mass production and command and control economies. Our fascination with celebrity filled the friendship gap, they became our make believe friends. But now we have tools (such as the facebook newsfeed) which make our friends our news once more.
Example: Celebrity-obsessed media is likely to suffer. Viewing figs for I’m a Celebrity start to fall, less Celebrity Dog Walking type shows being made.

9) On the threat-to-newspapers theme, I think the Sun will go free – on the streets of London, at least.

10) Peer-to-peer collaboration will continue its disruptive march. This will go in any and all directions. So let’s pick one to expect to happen by the close of 2008.
Example: OK, someone will launch a peer-to-peer bank in the western world.
UPDATED DEC 20... the wisdom of the crowds (see comments) tells me I was really good at predicting the past on this one! eg Have offered a replacement in the comments you'll find below.

And one for fun… Amazon will regret its Kindle, e-book because it’ll get hacked and that'll make book content as free and accessible as music has become. Scarey for Amazon.
Then again, perhaps its closed nature will make more of us realise the tactile value of a real book – which any of us can pass to any of us – or sell to any of us.

So that’s my gaze into the future. What’s yours?

The rate of change is so rapid it's difficult for one person to keep up to speed. Let's pool our thoughts, share our reactions and, who knows, even reach some shared conclusions worth arriving at?