Media companies are struggling. This is not new, this is not news. But this crisis accelerated their dilema. Since the first Webbrowser was distributed Media companies are looking for new sustainable business models. This is difficult in the economy of “free”. Especially around media content. The whole story and how it evolves is blogged about by Jeff Jarvis on Buzzmachine.
Since 1999 Google demonstrates what bussinnss models are working. I want to add on a global scale. Today 50% of all newspaper readers are channeled through Google (search). But is Google really the answer on the local scale ?
The strength of local companies is not the news, it is the strength of knowing the local environment. The future is not the advertising in your news that you sell it is a complete different model in my opinion. It is a very localized kind of “google” or even more. You let google do what google is best at and you do what you as the local embedded organization could do best for the people in your region.
What local people need is an urban resource planning system, a life planning system or a personal resource planning system. Making it easy for them to organize their lives based on the communication, on the news they receive from their network, from the web.
What do I mean ? As a media company you could provide the services that would support such resource planning.
Example: You write an article online about a restaurant, a theater play, an event that will take place and offer the reader to immediately reserve the ticket or the table in the restaurant out of the article , have the date entered in teh personal calendar, have the bill send or the ticket automatically paid,….
What ever local information y0u provide you organize the follow on processes for the reader. Whenever needed you link to available online systems (example what is provided by google) or build a hosting service for local applications that support very local needs, offer iphone, igoogle apps or gadgets that support the follow on processes.
To take it a step further for all the smart phone or mobile computing device users each house or location could provide information whenever you come close to these locations based on your GPS position tracked by your smart mobile device.
There are plenty of examples: you assign tasks to locations such as get medicine from the pharmacy on the way home, or buy bread at the bakery when you pass by in the morning or return from work. As soon as you come close to the location your smart mobile device will notify you of the open tasks related to this location.
Or you drive into the city and the device will tell you where the closes parking is and how many spaces are available.
Or you visit the town as a tourist and your device will offer you information on historical buildings that you pass by during your visit or it will tell you about events going to take place in the building – be it a cinema, theater, restaurant, etc.
There are hundreds of possible location based services imaginable.
Even interpersonal based services could be developped. Such as a birthday reminder once you get close to a person you know and you are connect with…
The other opportunities are around collective learning or collective smartness. One way to learn is to benchmark against others – I created an example around Linkedin: How attractive is my Linkedin Profile – The Benchmark Study ? You could benchmark your energy costs or benchmark other information where you profit from sharing these information with others to have more transparency for yourself in order to make decisions. Other opportunities are around transport. Whenever one gets into a traffic jam by sharing this information other drivers coming into the city will take a different route. Again plenty of services are imaginable.
In principal these services will need to be open and free. I cannot imagine a paid or subscriber model for the majority of these services. Income could come through referral, coupons or advertising. There are plenty of places in these services where one could place adds or get referral fees. A number of these business modells are described and calculated at: newsinnovation.com
To build such a system it could be done in cooperation between large and small players. For example computer users could provide space on their computers to support hosting of data and applications, anyone could provide content and anyone could provide samll applications based on the open standards, etc…. There only needs to be a decent model around sharing of the income generated through this system.
The best way to understand these new possible business models is to pilot them. I have been involved in pilots of the interactive television beginning of the 90s. From such pilots you will quickly learn what a user would expect from these systems and how likely they will succeed in the market place. At that time it became apparant that the technology, the costs of the system will not meet the users experience and value expectations . And as you know interactive television did not turn into a sustainable profitable business.
Ideal places for these pilots could be New York, London, Tokyo or Zurich.
Zurich has an ideal setup. It is one of the wealthiest cities, it is very international, it has a highly developed media industry, it is a major banking place, Google has its European and Middle East and African Headquarter in Zurich, Ebay has an office in Zurich, Yahoo is in Switzerland, there is the ETH and there are plenty of high tech companies in and around Zurich. And very important the major Telecom companies such as Swisscom are located in this city. Besides a very well established communication network Zurich could additionally explore the transfer of data via the electricity lines. Zurich would be well set for a pilot and could likely beocme the smartest city on earth.
Example of a generic personal resource planning system. In this case it is proposed subcriber model, which I believe will not be sustainable or attractive to most users.
Example of a hyperlocal news site: Every.Block.com. EveryBlock.com was just aquired by MSNBC.
Jarvis, Jeff: What Would Google Do?
Tapscott, Don: Wikinomics: How Mass Collaboration Changes Everything
Udell, Sterling: Beginning Google Maps Mashups with Mapplets, KML, and GeoRSS: From Novice to Professional (Beginning from Novice to Professional)