Lessons from Apple: creating a convenient media environment key to keeping consumers


Creating an enjoyable media environment
Creating an enjoyable media environment

In the last few weeks, we saw all kinds of reactions from the newsmedia industry about the publisher solution offered by Apple and Google.

What is your conclusion? What will your media company do now?

Let’s guess: you still don’t have a conclusion or a plan yet, right? What will you do about it? Wait to see what other companies will do before deciding?

OK, let’s stop for a moment and think together. This may help change your decision.

Let’s think about the music industry using the technology approach.

We all know that the music industry faced similar challenges to what the newsmedia industry is facing today. But they are a few years ahead.

They were caught by surprise in 2003 when Apple launched the iPod and iTunes. But what exactly happened?

The music industry didn’t know how to react to the new technology and possibilities. They were struggling with decreasing revenues, people were getting content for free on the Internet, companies were shrinking, there was panic among the teams and uncertainty about their future. And to make it worse, Apple offered them a 70/30 deal that they never heard about before. And all the songs would be sold for US$0.99 each.

The music industry didn’t like the offer, the business model, or the pricing strategy but they were in such a delicate position that they just accepted everything.

Now, more than 10 billion iTunes downloads later and revenues that paid around US$7 billion to the music companies, you hear from some music executives things like “iTunes saved the industry” or even “we wouldn’t be here if it was not for Apple, which organised the digital revolution of the music industry.”

What did Apple do exactly?

Apple released iTunes and the first version of the iPod. Then, a new version, and then a new one.

Then, Apple released the iPhone, and then a new version of the iPhone, and another one.

Three years later, Apple released the iPad and now the iPad2.

And all of those devices work with iTunes which got bigger and more powerful than ever. Today, iTunes accounts for 70% of worldwide online digital music sales, has 160 million members and sells apps, movies and much more.

Regardless the device, Apple users are hooked on an “environment” called iTunes that allows them to interact and buy. It’s easy, simple, available and convenient. It’s so efficient that there are more people buying music with iTunes than people getting online music for free.

Apple creates and destroys their devices, replacing them with new versions, more powerful and more interesting to the consumer than the previous one. They learned that from the car industry.

But what really matters to them is the environment that the user is inserted into and how to keep that user engaged, hooked. The environment is the key for the success in the long term, regardless what device the consumer will be using.

Google is following the same steps and developing their own environment just like Nokia, and Motorola, and everybody else. Some successfully, some not so much.

Another famous environment that does not even have a device because it works in practically across all of them is Facebook.

Back to the newsmedia industry …

Where is the newsmedia environment? Do you know any media company that is designing something similar to the iTunes or Facebook? A company that is not focusing on the device (paper, computer, mobile phone, tablet) but on the environment?

Is someone in the newsmedia business thinking about that or at least talking about that? Are the big media companies working together to develop the newsmedia environment?

Here is a tipping point: your company can start it!

Your company can create an exclusive media environment with the content it produces, the properties and brands it owns, and all the possible valuable benefits that it has to offer.

Or your company can participate in other companies’ environments and partner with companies like Google or Apple. Take advantage of all the investment and reach they already have and jump in.

Obviously, there will be a price to do so, but maybe it’s going to be cheaper than starting from scratch and waiting a few more months/years to have it ready.

And most important, it may be easier, simpler and more convenient for the reader/user/consumer, who already is part of those environments and know how they work.

The music industry took action and got into iTunes to survive. Now, they celebrate the “extra” revenue it generated and, along the way, they were able to design a different pricing strategy that matches their needs.

Get your MP3 player, choose a great song, and take some action!

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