Saturday, October 30, 2010

My advice to the entertainment industry

I'm just a lowly consumer. But there's one thing I seem to understand that the entertainment industry does not. And that is that technology is no longer a rule changer - it's a game changer. And it's changing the game faster than big Entertainment and the government can handle.

There are whole industries that exist today that did were not even thought of 10 years ago thanks to technology like Bluetooth, the smart phone, VoIP, GPS and portable data storage. That is by no means a complete list, it's just scratching the surface. The entertainment industry is playing a snail's paced game of catch-up with technology, even going so far as to try to control, legislate and lock these technologies. They think they're leading the game too. The problem is this - they're only now dealing with technology that has been around for at least a decade in each case. Their reaction time is painfully slow and the reality is that new technological innovations are not going to come at a slower pace, but at a faster one.

It is very possible that within 5-10 years, mesh network technologies will make it possible to create ad hoc internets of varying sizes that spring into existence for hours or days before vanishing without a trace. Storage technologies will make it possible to store thousands of movies and millions of songs on a device no bigger than a pack of cigarettes. When that day comes, sharing whole collections will be as easy as lending your device to your friend for a few hours, if you even have to go to that much trouble. The devices themselves may just form their own ad hoc wireless networks.

It is not only possible, but inevitable, that while the entertainment industry is busy trying to control, legislate and lock each current technology, something even more enabling to the consumer will appear on the market to render their efforts completely and totally redundant. So the question is, if trying to control how consumers use technology is a losing battle, what should the industry be doing instead? That is the real question. Should big E focus on production of content and leave the distribution part to the consumer, who seem to have figured out how to do it better, cheaper, and faster? Perhaps the whole business model needs a complete overhaul.

The point is this - even if restrictive laws are passed, even if giant firewalls are built around countries, even if locks are placed on content and the devices that play it, it just won't matter. Technology will appear almost overnight to render most, if not all of these measures obsolete. It would be like watching an elephant fight a ninja. There's just no point in trying. What both big E and governments need to do is stop reacting to perceived threats to an antiquated business model based on 1940s culture and technology and start developing a new business model.

Embrace the technology - don't fight it. Resistance is futile.

No comments: