Monday, October 08, 2007

Mindtrek 2007 (7)

Disruptive media in a convergent market

This is a nice title to keep people in suspense. The element innovation is in it as well the consolidation of the present market. Yet the presentation was about TV and print, or to be more specific about TV and newspapers and the presenter was Mr Jan Geissler, a researcher with Vodafone.

Mr Geissler started out with a short presentation on research at Vodafone. Media is the largest section of the research department in Vodafone. The research method Vodafone uses is to start a research project as a submarine; it will only surface when there are results to show. Mr Geissler has been involved in the project Papyrus, a project on electronic newspapers and DVB-H. It was the first time I heard about the project.

He started out giving statistics about the average daily media consumption in Germany:
- Internet: 26 minutes;
- Magazines and books: 12 minutes;
- Newspapers: 24 minutes;
- Television: 230 minutes.
And he sketched the average family situation in Germany. The family Miller pays 4-8 euro rent for a 3,5 rooms of 89 meters in a house with multiple parties. The family has a Grundig TV set, cable television and VHS.

This is the background against which the project Papyrus is set and researching DVB-H and newspapers. DVB-H is the standard for mobile interactive broadcast. In 2004 the first trial was held in Berlin with 200 users. In the meantime mobile broadcast is being deployed in Italy. Of course the DVB-H consortium would like to see the use of mobile interactive broadcast for the Olympic Games in China. But Vodafone saw also other applications for DVB-H as carrier for electronic newspapers.

The newspaper business is declining rapidly. It still has a 46 billion euro turn-over worldwide. The newspaper business now invests in online editions and social media and experiments with digipapers like mobile, e-readers and hopes for electronic tabloid newspapers. The advantages are seen as a lightweight newspaper, updates with wifi, to be printed anywhere with dynamic, customised content and advertisements.

Vodafone did not choose for the e-readers like iLiad and STAReBOOK as Les Echos did. It started working together with Benq, a joint venture of Siemens, in developing the electronic tabloid newspaper. But Benq sunk and so did that part of the project. The consortium, in which Bertelsmann participates, is now investigating other digital paper producers like Plastic Logic.

The presentation did throw up observations and questions. Interesting is the observation that broadsheet are getting smaller to the size of tabloids and perhaps in the future to magazine size, while the electronic newspapers are getting larger, from small telephone screen SMS like messages to A5 e-readers like the iLiad and STAReBOOK with a view on an electronic tabloid or even broadsheet.

Another question is: why should the digipaper succeed. Although presently advertisement revenues still go to television, internet takes more annually.

But the real question is of course whether the generation under 35 years of age still need a newspaper, regardless whether it is printed or a digipaper. A generation which has been fed with Google News, why should they buy an electric tabloid?

Blog Posting Number: 888

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