Innovation Perspectives – Cash, Plastic or Free?

This is the first of several ‘Innovation Perspectives‘ articles we will publish this week from multiple authors to get different perspectives on ‘What product or sector is in desperate need of innovation?‘. So to kick it off, here is my perspective:

Innovation Perspectives - Cash, Plastic or Free?There are lots of industries that are desperate for innovation, especially in this recession, but my choice is the publishing industry. First let me say that far too often the publishing industry is too narrowly defined as relating to the publishing of books. Or, if it is thought of in a more holistic manner, then it is still spoken about in terms of its isolated silos – books, magazines, newspapers, music, software, etc.

Yet what is the publishing industry but a group of businesses that make their living distributing the work of “artists” to the masses. And no matter which of these silos you choose to read about, you’ll come across stories of their pending demise (even software). Taken at face value, the publishing industries are facing an apocalypse and should be desperate for innovation – and they are…

Recently I came across an article talking about how now instead of paying 99 cents a song as on iTunes, users will be able to download and listen to the music they want for free after watching a 15- to 30-second advertisement at sites like As a concept, advertising-supported music you can share is not new. It used to be done with the radio and a cassette recorder, but now it is possible for downloads and sharing and social media to all be combined together. For a music industry struggling against piracy, it needs to innovate further in areas like this.

The magazine industry is shrinking at an accelerating rate with magazines like Business 2.0 (one of my favorites) closing up shop, and rumors swirling about Newsweek possibly disappearing as well. Two newspaper towns are becoming one newspaper towns and the art of the newspaper business (feature stories and investigative journalism) is quickly being replaced in the dailies by more stories off the wire.

Both newspapers and magazines are hoping that devices like the Amazon Kindle, Barnes and Noble’s Nook, and their own e-reader creations will save them. Some magazines are getting a little more creative. National Geographic is offering their entire archive on a portable hard disk, and Sports Illustrated is preparing for the new generation of rumored slate computers with a new interactive format.

The book industry is coping with the fact that on Christmas Day, for the first time in history, Amazon sold more digital books than paper books, and also with Google’s designs on digitizing every book they legally can. So, as you can see all of the silos in the publishing industry are desperate for innovation.

But what does the future hold for the publishing industry?

If you watch the embedded video in my Apple Tablet Sneak Preview article, or if you watch the embedded video of Coursesmart’s offering in my Microsoft-Apple-Google in Tablet Battle article, I think you’ll get a sense of where things are going and the kinds of innovation that the publishing industry silos will need to consider.

The bottom line is that when people start carrying around high-definition multimedia devices with them that are always connected to the Internet, then the boundaries between different media types are going to feel artificial. Customers will flock to more integrated content.

This will require companies delivering information or entertainment solutions to customers to innovate new partnerships and deal structures, new business models, and new product and service offerings to better meet customers’ quickly evolving entertainment and education expectations. Industry structures and silos are about to be transformed.

So, what kind of publishing industry innovations can you imagine in this new world?

You can check out all of the ‘Innovation Perspectives‘ articles from the different contributing authors on ‘What product or sector is in desperate need of innovation?‘ by clicking the link in this sentence.

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2 thoughts on “Innovation Perspectives – Cash, Plastic or Free?

  1. Pingback: Educating Tomorrow’s Workforce | Braden Kelley

  2. Pingback: Innovation Excellence | Educating Tomorrow’s Workforce

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