I admit it — I’m still way excited about the new iPods. Not only for the usual selfish reasons but also because I see them as the dawning of a new age. Specifically, the age of free, ubiquitous WiFi and — yes — better short-form video.
Let’s start with the first. There has a been an ongoing struggle when it comes to wireless. On one side, there are those who want WiFi to be free. Or, if not free, extremely low cost. Some cities, for example, are trying to blanket their communities in wireless, treating it as a low-fee utility. Think of it like electricity, only, well, better.
On the other side, there are the many companies who see WiFi and its successors as for-profit ventures. Why give it away for free when charging is so much better? Better for the companies, not the consumers. With the former approach, you will get a fairly standard, community-wide, probably more stable wireless. With the former, you get a hodgepodge of coverage, a barrage of charges, and if I know my country, countless new passwords to manage.
As consumers become more accustomed to tapping into wireless networks as needed, they’re going to become more vocal about what they want. Wireless is not free, but it’s clearly going to be as essential as water, electricity, broadcast television, etc. Now is the time to put a stop to messy implementation and create a system that works, oh, for the people who use it.
The other area I think will benefit from Apple’s new product line — partially because it sets the new gold standard for all new portable media devices (take note, Amazon) — is video content. Okay, text-based and audio as well, but I believe online video is going to change.
Naturally, I expect to see an increase in major studio offerings. In hindsight, NBC’s decision to pull out of iTunes seems even more ridiculous. It’s not like the recently-announced Kindle has video capability. The studios will have to accept that they need to form better customer relationships. This means, at a minimum, giving the people reasonably priced, easy-to-use access to content. Because…
We are seeing an increase in independently produced content, and while some motion picture executives do not believe it can be done, there are creative people out there doing ongoing series and distributing the content via YouTube. Lonelygirl15 might be dead, but her legacy remains. Maybe instead of the dawn of short-form video, we’ll see the resurrection of the serial. Wouldn’t that be great?
With both, we’ll see another change: the rending of the illusory veil of consumer control. While it appears that we have choice in our programming, it has been false choice. Until HBO, Showtime, and others started understanding that they could build and retain serious audiences with great programming, the television viewer was limited to a very narrow vision of what “programming” could and should be.
No more. This will not only impact fictional content, but will also change news programming and documentaries. Music has already seen a shift — Top 40 radio is not what it used to be.
Of course, all innovation comes at a cost, and the price in this instance is consumer awareness. You cannot just sit back and hope someone out there will do the right thing. You want community-based wireless? Make sure it happens in your town or city.
Because if you don’t, then you won’t get what you want from the future.